Thoughts on "The Snow Queen," part 3
September 7, 2010
J. C. Verdin
At last we are at the seventh part of my favorite tale by Hans Christian Andersen.
"Little Kai was blue--indeed, almost black--from the cold; but he did not feel it, for the Snow Queen had kissed all feeling of coldness out of him, and his heart had almost turned into a lump of ice. He sat arranging and rearranging pieces of ice into patterns. He called this the Game of Reason; and because of the splinters in his eyes, he thought that what he was doing was of great importance, although it was no different than playing with wooden blocks, which he had done when he could hardly talk.
"He wanted to put the pieces of ice together in such a way that they formed a certain word, but he could not remember exactly what that word was. The word that he could not remember was "eternity." The Snow Queen had told him that if he could place the pieces in ice so that they spelled the word, then he would be his own master and she would give him the whole world and a new pair of skatesl but, however much he tried, he couldn't do it."
The Snow Queen leaves Kai just as Gerda arrives.
"But Kai sat still and stiff and cold; then little Gerda cried and her tears fell on Kai's breast. The warmth penetrated to his heart and melted both the ice and the glass splinter in it....
"Kai burst into tears and wept so much that the grains of glass in his eyes were washed away. Now he remembered her and shouted joyfully: "Gerda! Sweet little Gerda, where have you been so long? And where have I been?" Kai looked about him. "How cold it is, how empty and how huge!" And he held onto Gerda, who was so happy that she was both laughing and crying at the same time. It was so blessed, so happy a moment that even the pieces of ice felt it and started to dance; and when they grew tired they lay down and formed exactly the word for which the Snow Queen had promised Kai the whold world and a new pair of skates.
"....Now the Snow Queen could return, for the right to his freedom was written in brilliant pieces of ice.
"Soon they were walking up the worn steps of the staircase to the old Grandmother's apartment. Nothing inside it had changed. The clock said: "Tick-tack..." and the wheels moved. But as they stepped through the doorway they realized that they had grown up: they were no longer children.
"The roses were blooming in the wooden boxes and the window was open. There were the little stools they used to sit on. Still holding each other's hands, they sat down, and all memory of the Snow Queen and it's hollow splendor disappeared. The Grandmother sat in the warm sunshine, reading aloud from her Bibe: "Whosoever shall not receive the Kingdom of Heaven as a little child shall not enter therein."
"Kai and Gerda looked into each other's eye and they understood the words from the psalm:
Our roses bloom and fade away,
Our infant Lord abides alway.
May we be blessed his face to see
And ever little children be.
"There they sat, the two of them, grown ups and yet in their hearts children, and it was summer: a warm glorious summer day!
A lot happens in the seventh part. You've read it for yourself. I wanted to talk about two things in this last part, but I can't remember the first. (Hey, vents are supposed to be honest.) So, I'll focus on the second.
"Whosoever shall not receive the Kingdom of Heaven as a little child shall not enter therein." is a paraphrase of a well-known Bible verse. (Matthew 18:3). I think the translator just translated it straight from the Danish and didn't bother with a well-known translation. If you ever figure out the translation he used, please tell me. Hint: It's NOT King James Version. I checked.
1-In Bible times, children were the least of these. They were the bottom of the totem pole. God just loves to humble us, doesn't He?
2-Children have a sense of trust that we need to emulate. They trust their daddy or mommy to take care of them no matter what.
3-Children a sense of wonder that we lose when we grow older. Storms are explained away by science. Scary images on TV are just stage make-up and special effects. Nothing amazes us anymore. (We've talked about this before, haven't we?)
4-Children are sinners in need of a savior. People are, by their very nature, sinners. From the moment we are born till we take our last breath. Some of us can add the prefix 'saved' to that term, but we're still sinners. Being saved doesn't make you perfect nor does it mean you'll stop sinning. You'll fall short of the glory of God millions of times this side of eternity.
In essence, "The Snow Queen" is about being a child and childlike faith. (If you read the entire story, you'll know that.) While some of the other parts inspire other thoughts, which is a good thing, children, like all fairy tales, are the star role.
It's been a great three days. Good night and God bless.
*All quotes from "The Snow Queen" are taken from Hans Christian Andersen: The Complete Fairy Tales and Stories, Translated from the Danish by Erik Christian Haugaard, published 1983 by Anchor Books