Lions by The Rev. Ben G. Robertson

image1The other day, while surfing social media, I stumbled across an old clip of Robin Williams.  I’ve always enjoyed his work, both as a stand-up comedian and a dramatic actor, and admired his quick wit.  And when celebrities die, reflections on their death can be mixed.  Some are lionized to such a extreme degree, they sound like saints when they were actually very human.  On the other hand, some intrepid reporters dig so deeply into their demons, their revelations can be tantamount to dancing on the grave.  Or, unknown aspects of the celebrity’s life can come to light that reveal that she was just as accomplished as a mom or as a volunteer as she was on the field of play. 

Regarding Mr. Williams, for one, while I wish the circumstances were different, I was glad for the attention his death gave to depression and mental illness.  Depression is a serious and real disease and I am constantly alarmed by the societal stigma still attached to mental illness and seeking care for mental illness.  Depression is not silly or a figment of one’s imagination and one can not merely snap out of it.  Depression can kill and seeking help is just as wise and prudent as taking an antibiotic when diagnosed with an infection.  I am also glad for the revelation of some of Mr. Williams good works: his tours with the USO, his visits to cancer patients (some called him a comedic Mother Theresa), and his generosity to many charitable organizations.   

Seeing and appreciating Mr. Williams’ work once again inspired me to wander around the web looking for other fun clips and tidbits.  One stood out to me, a chat on the website Reddit.  A participant asked Williams, “what is your favorite book?” and he replied The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the well known christian allegory (or “supposal” as the author called it) by C. S. Lewis.  Williams continued in the chat to describe how he would read the book to his own kids, often giving voices to the different characters.  I can only imagine how wonderful an audio recording of Williams reading Lion would have been.   

In Lion, Aslan says, “… there is a magic deeper still which [the witch] did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation.”   

All of us deal with darkness.  Some of us ignore it, some of us deal with it, and some of us, tragically, are overcome by it.   But even in the darkness, “magic” (a.k.a. God) exists.  Even in darkness, we are never alone. As it says in the Gospel of John, “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness [does] not overcome it,” (1:5).   

May we be bearers of the light in the dark corners of the world.  For those we love who have also fallen into darkness, may we shine the light and bring them back home.  And for Robin Williams, I give thanks for another glimpse of his artistic and comedic genius.  May he realize these other words of Aslan, “‘Oh, children,’ said the Lion, ‘I feel my strength coming back to me.   Oh, children, catch me if you can!'”