I received this email from a young woman in Barcelona:
"I am studying in Spain for the semester and as exciting as it is to be here, I find myself in a situation quite hostile to any kind of message declaring absolute truth, especially the penetrating word of Scripture. My greatest desire is to find fellowship, and for God to be able to use me here despite the antagonism."
And may she indeed find fellowship-quick!
Rachel is experiencing her first concentrated exposure to the Green Dust. The Green Dust is invisible, odorless, and colorless. You will not detect it as some anthrax powder on your postcards of Sacrada Familia or Place del Tibidabo. Nor does the rain of this dust fall mainly on the plain of Spain. I had a brother for 30 years in France who voiced the same complaint.
The urgency of fellowship is due to a nefarious peculiarity of the Green Dust-one acclimates to it. Stage One (where Rachel is presently) is horror and aversion. Stage Two (unavoidable except by the judicious cultivation of congregation with like-minded brethren) is diminishment of horror and aversion, accompanied by a period of confusion. Stage Three is acquiescing to the permeating allegation that there is something arrogant in claiming to have absolute truth. Stage Four is total mental amnesia of Stages One, Two, and Three. A fait accompli. Asunto hecho:
"We know that we have introduced a change of direction in his course which is carrying him out of his orbit around the Enemy; but he must be made to imagine that all the choices which have effected this change of course are trivial and revocable. He must not be allowed to suspect that he is now, however slowly, heading right away from the sun on a line which will carry him into the cold and dark of utmost space" (The Screwtape Letters).
Until Rachel finds fellowship (and I have been praying that it's soon), it will be very important that she rehearse the signs she learned back home, like Eustace and Jill had to do:
"Here on the mountain I have spoken to you clearly. . . . Here on the mountain, the air is clear and your minds are clear; as you drop down into Narnia, the air will thicken. Take great care that it does not confuse your mind. . . . Remember the signs and believe the signs. Nothing else matters" (The Silver Chair).
They will laugh at you when you say you believe in the sun. They will say you've dreamed dreams about a lamp, and that the lamp is the real thing. You will fight back at first and insist that the sun is real, and that Narnia is real, even though we don't see them now. But after a while of inhaling the Green Dust that everywhere spews in Spain, the danger is that you will get drowsy and stop fighting. May God send you a noble Marshwiggle to snap you out of it:
"Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all these things-trees and grass and sun and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a very poor one. And that's a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We're just babies making up a game, if you're right. But four babies playing a game can make up a play-world which licks your real world hollow."
So if you should happen to go to Barcelona, and you run into Rachel, you might want to invite her for espresso at a sidewalk café. Don't do superficial; remind her that Aslan is real and heaven is real and truth is real. You could whip out your pocket Bible, near the Berlitz Spanish phrase book, and read: "Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it" (Hebrews 2:1).
I got an email from Rachel's father too, who asks me to pray. But Green Dust is best dispelled by cheek-and-jowl fellowship. There's only so much we can do from here.
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