The other day I was talking with a friend about some generalities of life. I was saying that I simply had many misgivings about people in my life. I prefer that people earn my trust, rather than I just provide it to them upon first meeting. I told her that I really wanted to trust that the world was a good place, but my experiences had led me to a different conclusion.
We paused our conversation so that we could drink out hot tea. She looked up thoughtfully and said the following sentence.
“Right now, you remind me of Puddleglum from the Chronicles of Narnia. C.S. Lewis created his character to show us that it’s ok to not trust. But we have the choice to believe there is hope.”
I won’t assume that everyone knows who Puddleglum is or what the Chronicles of Narnia are; so let me enlighten. Puddleglum is a fictional character in C.S. Lewis’s beloved series. We meet him much later in the series, during the book entitled, “The Silver Chair”. He is a Marshwiggle, a sort of frog-like creature with the human ability to love, hate, fear and hope.
Puddleglum is asked to join the quest with Jill and Eustace as they seek out King Rillian. They strategize their way out of the Giants of Harfang kingdom, escape the clutches of the gnomes at the earth’s core and eventually out hope the Lady of the Green Kirtle’s dark magic.
But it isn’t the physical bravery that Puddleglum shows in these situations that ought to be celebrated. It’s his inner most yearning to believe that things will get better even in the darkest of times. The craving to have confidence in a better place just above the earth’s surface.
In the darkest moment of the book, whilst the Lady of the Green Kirtle performed her dark magic in hopes of subduing her aggressors, Puddleglum makes his choice.
“I'm going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn't any Narnia.”
He believed so deeply in the power of good and the strength of Aslan to overcome evil, despite his gloomy world view. (To be fair, he did undergo far more than any of us ever have….you see life can’t always be “fricasseed frogs and eel pie.”)
We all have the choice to believe that there is a better way or a better place to the current situations we find ourselves in. While ruin may be the road to transformation, hope is the choice to restoration. Puddleglum recognized this and actively participated in this last, powerful attempt at renewal.
Back in the real world, I reflected on this quality of Puddleglum. While I believe that there are many horrible people in this world, I reconciled myself to actively work to hope and prepare for the best. While this in no way implies perfection, it’s a habit I am willing to create.