Thanksgiving is past, and Advent is once again upon us. Yet, the daily headlines prove our world is a broken mess, one that we are apparently helpless to fix.
The conflict we face between our dreams and reality can cause a peculiar mix of emotions. Gratitude is mixed with grief. Anticipation gives way to antipathy. Fortitude is compromised by fear.
This tension is addressed in one of my favorite stories from C.S. Lewis. It’s found in “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.” It’s the story of the Pevensie children as they stand bewildered and confused in a land they do not recognize as their own.
If you recall, Lucy, Peter, Edmond, Susan entered Narnia through the portal of a wardrobe, and as they did, they found themselves in a winter wonderland of sorts. It was white and cold. The lamppost glowed somberly in a windless forest blanketed with snow.
At first glance, it all seems beautiful – but something is missing. This land is nearly lifeless, and the few creatures the children encounter are suspicious and paranoid. There is no joy.
The kids then meet two talking animals, Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, by which they are told that Narnia is under the spell of an evil witch. Everything is pale. Everything is cold. Every moment is governed by fear rather than hope. Every day is as if it is “always winter but never Christmas.” This is the description of life under the witch’s rule. This is simply a land of despair and defeat.
There is, however, more to the story. In the midst of Mr. Beaver’s description of the evil spell, the children hear sleigh bells ringing in the distance. At first, they are sure this is the sound of the witch’s return, and they hide.
But it’s not the witch. No, the driver of the sleigh is a giant of a man dressed all in red with a white beard flowing down over the breast of his ample robe. It is Father Christmas!
“I have broken through at last,” he shouts. “She has kept me out for a long time, but her magic is weakening.”
Lucy shivers with excitement. He is here! And he not only brings presents but he also brings peace and joy. He not only brings hot tea with cream and sugar, but he also offers love, warmth and compassion. He brings music, and he brings a message: “Aslan is on the move!” he cries. “A Merry Christmas! Long live the true King!”
Over 2,000 years ago, the world was suffering through a cold dark winter. Civil unrest was rampant. The power of Western Civilization was crumbling. Rome wielded the sword. Israel picked up stones. Fear killed freedom. Terrorism defeated trust. Even amidst the calm of Pax Romana, there seemed to be a cloud of impending doom.
Today, many of us feel the same way. The newsfeed on our smartphones chills our bones. We shiver as we try to shelter ourselves from the freezing winds of CNN and even FOX NEWS. Kenosha and Waukesha: Always winter but never Christmas. BLM, CRT, and ANTIFA: Always winter but never Christmas. Riots and revenge: Always winter but never Christmas. COVID-19 lockdowns, required masking, and forced vaccines: Always winter but never Christmas.
But in the face of such cold winds, perhaps we would do well to remember the news of long ago when light shined on the hills of Bethlehem and Father Christmas arrived singing a new song. “Do not be afraid.” He declared in a booming voice. “For behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy.” And on that night, hope and love were born anew, winter began to melt away, and Christmas sprang alive in a stable under the stars.
“I have broken through at last,” cries Christmas. “She has kept me out for a long time, but her magic is weakening. This is a time of love, not hate, giving, not getting, goodness, not greed. Remember that light always diminishes darkness, warmth always melts what is cold, and the Son is always stronger than winter.
Aslan is on the move. “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord. He is the light of men. He shines in the darkness, and he has made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Hilaire Belloc says it well: “Do not, I beseech you, be troubled about the increase of forces already in dissolution. You have mistaken the hour of the night. It is already morning.”
• Everett Piper (dreverettpiper.com, @dreverettpiper), a columnist for The Washington Times, is a former university president and radio host. He is the author of “Not a Daycare: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth” (Regnery) and, most recently, “Grow Up: Life Isn’t Safe, But It’s Good.”