Day 19. That We Might See Him

[above: Christmas crib figures Image by Myriam Zilles from Pixabay]

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. (Isaiah 9:2, NIV)

Among the asses (stubborn I as they)
 I see my Saviour where I looked for hay.

—C. S. Lewis, “The Nativity,” from The Collected Poems of C. S. Lewis: A Critical Edition

Asses and hay. Seeing and looking. At first glance these things seem to have little in common and still less to do with Advent. But, as usually happens when it comes to the Good News, looking more deeply lets us see more clearly. And so too with Lewis, who in his little Advent poem “The Nativity,” helps us as he so often does to move past merely looking to truly see.

Both in the Chronicles of Narnia and in Lewis’s letters of that period, an ass almost always describes someone or something present but missing the point. “What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are,” Lewis suggests. This reminds me of the dwarfs in The Last Battle who would not be taken in; who, when they enter the stable and are presented with a great feast in the glorious light of Aslan’s Country, can see only hay, filth, and darkness.

Their problem comes from the distinction between looking and seeing. We too often look only for hay (and wood, and stubble), when at a second glance we might instead see our Savior. For we, too, walk in a land of deep darkness, and so often we miss the things rushing by us that might let us see Christ, disguised as everything. Lewis reminds us that if we will really see instead of simply look, we might catch a glimpse of the Light of the World, dawning upon us all in this season of Advent. So let us stand in that stable and look for the Savior. And let us become the sort of people who might truly see him.

PRAYER: O, Lord, give us eyes to see, and help us, especially in this season, to find you everywhere, breaking through the darkness and bringing us to your feast. Amen.

By Andrew Lazo

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #133+ in 2019]

Andrew Lazo is a C. S. Lewis scholar and delightedly married to author and fellow contributor Christin Ditchfield.
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