Snowballs in the forest

Do you know how sometimes in fiction the characters, setting, and events are so contrived that something splendidly outlandish happens at the precise moment required for the best reaction possible?

Probably my most favorite of those moments takes place in C.S. Lewis’ Silver Chair.  The following is a creative retelling of that moment.

The children and the marshwiggle have been miles and miles underneath the earth . . having plunged deep into a pit in their escape of man-eating giants and their hunting dogs . . and having met odd underground creatures and being taken captive by order of the serpent queen . . and having freed the nearly mad prince of Narnia, the prince who has been lost for years and years underneath the ground where no mortal Narnian knew to find him . . and after the marshwiggle not putting up with any witchcraft nonsense from the fierce serpent queen . . and after they have slain the serpent queen . . and after the underground began to crumble and shake, all the queen’s witchcraft becoming undone . . now the children, marshwiggle, and prince all fleeing the destruction of the quaking underground realm . . and now all the odd underground creatures, freed from the serpent queen’s spell, leaping down into the deeper caverns where they are really at home . . the deeper caverns with rubies and sapphires you can eat, and rivers of flame, and iridescent gems as big as you please . . and after the children, marshwiggle, and prince decline an offer from one of the odd creatures to explore the deeper caverns (after declining only at the insistence of the child Jill, who does not think it wise to take tea with the underlings in their deep down home even as the crevice to their deep down world closes, not to mention the disastrous flooding of the upper underground world as it all collapses in on itself) . . and at last now at last they have at last come at last to what they hope at last might be an escape hole . . and now the boy and the marshwiggle and the prince boost Jill up . . and now they want to show the lost prince back to Narnia before his father dies . . and whenceupon here and exactly now Jill pops up through the hole and is hit square in the mouth by a snowball.

–As it turns out– the forest creatures in the glorious above world of Narnia are participating in an interpretive snowball dance, the fauns gracefully clopping (I imagine it rather as river-dancing) amidst the dwarves . . and the dwarves throwing snowballs back and forth in as complicated-as-you-please pattern of arching, lobbing them from one dwarf to another, precariously close to all the fauns . . and the fauns fearlessly twirling with their little goat hooves, twittering through the snowy grass . . and the tree nymphs singing along . . and the dwarves still pitching snowballs in their mysterious pattern and still-of-yet not hitting a faun . . and here Jill finds herself–or rather her head, as she’s peering out of the hole–in the midst of it all.

Well, what a way to crash into Narnia!  How splendidly outlandish that it should be during the once-a-year first snow winter dance of the fauns and dwarves, with all the forest animals (including lots of wonderful bears) watching on.  So of course Jill can’t say anything because the snowball is in her mouth, and she’s quite taken aback anyway . . and of course the others (prince, marshwiggle, boy) still underground assume something very terrible has happened to her (especially the marshwiggle presumes something very terrible indeed) . . and of course the snow dance is very officially crashed by the unexpected guests who come pulled up out of the hole by all the talking animals . . and of course the prince is rushed to see his father . . and of course he does . . and of course the children get something warm to drink and blankets piled high and a royal tent for a great sleep . . and of course the dwarves stop throwing the snowballs.

I want to be there.  Coming up out of a hole from a dark underground rule reeking with spell and deception . . to snowballs in a forest (and with the fauns and dwarves and wonderful bears).  I want to be there, and I want to see it all, and I want to add to it.  I want to meet every Narnian creature and shake all their paws and meet a few kings and queens and especially enjoy tea.  I want to hear the silver music and see the snowball trajectories and climb the majestic mountains and twirl around with the fauns and try to make sure they don’t step on my toes with their hooves.

I want the splendidly outlandish thing to happen to me.  I long for adventure–open adventure, not a story already fully written, but a never-ending chapter whose pages go on and on, each one more rich and satisfying and surprising than the one before it.  I want not only to get to hear about the adventure, or even only to tell about the adventure.  I want to be in the adventure.

Am I alone in this?  I don’t think so.  Your longing might not be for snowballs in a Narnian forest, but I bet you have a dream of an adventure where you’d like to be.  It might be in a book you’ve read, a movie you’ve watched, a game you’ve played, or it might even be something in your head that you wish you could make happen.

The longing for adventure is so a part of us humans that we can scarcely oppress it enough to rid ourselves of it.  We are nearly incurably curious beings.  We seem born with a hunger to explore.  We seek out quests of make-believe as children with no one needing to teach us how, only give us time to play.  As we transition from childhood to adulthood, our minds still drift to the ache of adventure.  We thirst for purpose.  We long for that splendidly outlandish thing to happen to us.

But no matter how much make-believe we saturate ourselves with, no matter how much time we inundate ourselves with daydreams, we never feel we quite get what we are stretching so hard to reach.  We long for that next adventure, that bigger adventure, that better adventure, that real adventure.  We, like Bilbo, find ourselves always “quite ready for another adventure.” [1]

God is that adventure.

He is everything you would long for, if you knew how to long for Him.  He is everything your heart would seek, if your heart knew how to seek Him.  The deepest ache that no fantasy can fill is reserved for the reality of God, and will be left empty in your core until you invite Him in.

You cannot in all your imaginings get yourself to Him, because He is not make-believe.  No wishes can beckon Him, no spell can call Him, no imagination can define Him.  He is the real conception of the happily ever after.

God is the real conception of the happily ever after.

He Himself is the adventure you have been waiting to discover.

For the Spirit that God has given you does not make you slaves and cause you to be afraid; instead, the Spirit makes you God’s children, and by the Spirit’s power we cry out to God, “Father! my Father!” (Romans 8:15, GNT)


Scripture taken from the Good News Translation – Second Edition, Copyright 1992 by American Bible Society. Used by Permission.

Photograph by Alex France, profile on

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

[1] From Lord of the Rings: Return of the King by New Line Cinema.  Screenplay by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson.  Based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s book, Lord of the Rings: The return of the king.


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