On Being a Normal Horse

On Being a Normal Horse

I was struck by the self-pity of Bree, the kidnapped Narnian horse who in the story is escaping homeward from the southern deserts of Calormen. He is a charger, a beautiful white war horse who has fought many battles, even earning acclaim for his feats in this foreign kingdom. But during the flight northwards to his homeland, in one instance he does not appear so grand. Bree and his company are attacked by a large lion and it is Shasta the young boy, not Bree the warhorse, who turns around to face the lion in an attempt to defend two females in their company. Bree continues bolting away from the scene in a dash of panic, leaving the others to a likely death.

I recently read The Horse and His Boy and since I had long forgotten the plot and the conclusion, I enjoyed the whole thing as if it was the first time. What a brilliant, well-constructed story. It takes some time to get going but by the end the story fits snuggly like a glove, resolving every uncertainty and lose end in a work of pure Lewisian craftsmanship. On top of that, I believe it speaks directly to some issues in myself, namely a preoccupation with self with tendencies to self-pity.

I was struck by the self-pity of Bree, the kidnapped Narnian horse who in the story is escaping homeward from the southern deserts of Calormen. He is a charger, a beautiful white war horse who has fought many battles, even earning acclaim for his feats in this foreign kingdom. But during the flight northwards to his homeland, in one instance he does not appear so grand. Bree and his company are attacked by a large lion and it is Shasta the young boy, not Bree the warhorse, who turns around to face the lion in an attempt to defend two females in their company. Bree continues bolting away from the scene in a dash of panic, leaving the others to a likely death.

Later we see Bree in a state of despondency at his failure. He was not supposed to run away, he should have faced the danger and sacrificed himself for the weaker members. He should have acted heroically, but the moment came and went and he was missing in action. I understand this feeling very well. In my mind I both imagine and expect that I will act according to the lofty standards I know I should be able to reach. But I fail! I do not live up to my own expectations. Some things I put considerable work into do not seem to materialize and make an impact. Other times my actions toward my family do not reflect the righteous example I am called to model to them. There have been several what I call “golden opportunities” presented to me over the years to speak up about the gospel of Jesus Christ to unbelievers, yet I remember them as Bree remembers his failure: as opportunities missed.

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