I read somewhere that words can break spells just as powerfully as they can cast them. And when I used my words to enamor my three-year-old with the workings of unicorns and fairies on a warm November afternoon, I spoke with the intention of breaking a spell: the spell of disenchantment. Ironic? Completely. And yet… the enchantment of the world by the mysterious magic of a Creator God is the truest enchantment there is. It is utterly transfixing. But that spell has been broken; disenchantment has begun. The mystery of goodness, truth and beauty has been dispelled – shattered into fragments when sin curled into the form of a serpent in that Garden long ago.
And as disturbing as all this is, it took a lot of effort for me to leave my barely-finished coffee and take the time to re-discover a single piece of the shattered magic for my three-year-old daughter.
It had been a long week. Parenting my children took a tremendous amount of fortitude as I fought my own exhaustion and battled the burn-out of election week. But I knew I “ought” to; I “ought” to take my little daughter on a mini-date to spend time forming her imagination and showing her that my love was greater than my exhaustion.
So I giggled with her as we put on our jackets and sneakers and set out onto the wooded paths behind my house for a brisk walk, (yet, let’s be honest, at a three-year-old’s walking pace.) We held hands as we sauntered under the azure skies and gazed up at the golden-leaved trees that were shedding their robes of splendor in preparation for winter.
We walked North, our backs to the westering sun. As I watched our shadows spread before us, I felt like I was seeing an image of what the world was supposed to be; an image of grown-ups holding children’s hands – of protecting them from the lairs of goblins and leading them to the shelters of the fairies.
As we walked, my daughter found a bench. We sat. We listened to the rustling trees.
“Listen!” I said, “do you hear the trees whispering to each other?”
“Yeah,” she said rather tentatively. I continued.
“I think they’re whispering about the fairies! The fairies are coming to visit them today!”
“Oh!” she said.
“Do you think that’s what the trees are talking about?”
“And do you know what else I think? I think a unicorn is going to sneak into the world tonight and visit the trees and the fairies too!” I paused for a moment, then in a low voice, I said, “When it’s dark and the moon is out – I think a unicorn is going to come gliding through the moonlight and leave a ribbon of clouds shimmering like silk in her wake… What do you think?”
“Yeah, a unicorn!”
She smiled. We watched the trees some more, lost in a trance.
When we finally hopped off the bench and walked further down the path, we found more magic, including an abandoned bird house, a fairies’ shelter in a tangled bramble of old branches, and a cluster of extra-large, extra crispy old leaves to crunch with our shoes. We walked and talked, and learned that the world was big, wise, and wonderful. And my sweet daughter knew it that day, because, just for a moment, I found for her the shattered fragments of the magic of creation and pieced a teeny, tiny bit together for her to apprehend.
I don’t know what I’m doing half the time, but I do believe that it is my calling as a Christian to pick up the shattered fragments of the Creator’s enchanted reality and piece them together to tutor the world into learning how to be spellbound again.
And as I put down my empty coffee cup that afternoon, I knew that this calling began, (but did not end), with my daughter.
Living into wonder – into magic – is not easy. Especially for us adults. And I am no exception. But I know it is important in this all-too-easily disenchanted world. I must learn to see the world as a whole again, bit by bit, through people wiser than me, and by the guidance of a God so much more spell-binding than even the embodiment of magic He formed ex nihilo.
As I walked home with my sweet Edith, I found myself silently breathing a prayer of thanks to God that He enabled me to muster the strength to leave my cozy spot on the couch to take her on a journey into a world tremoring with the majesty of God.
If our world could be compared to a dazzling rainbow of colored glass that was shattered by the entrance of sin, then I believe it is our job to make stained glass windows out of the fragments: windows that recreate and piece together the truths of the story of the magic of God. The promise of the rainbow is still there… Noah saw it, and we see it whenever the sun gives ode to the rain in a shivering cloudburst of sunbeams on a rainy day. We know that God’s power never diminishes. He simply gave us the privileged task of recreating with him what we once broke when we allowed the serpent to slither his way into our hearts so long ago.
So my daughter and I will continue to look for unicorns in the dark… we’ll watch for them to glide by the moon in a silvery sheen as they slip like sparkling ghosts into the presence of us mere mortals. Why? Because I believe that humans were designed to live in the presence of the greatest magic of all: the resplendent craftsmanship of a sublime God. And maybe if we look for the unicorns, they’ll pay us a visit, too, and re-incline our hearts to watch for the wonder of a divine God and his all-enchanting, all-entrancing glory.
The featured images are courtesy of Christina Brown and used with her gracious permission for Cultivating and The Cultivating Project.
A founding member of The Cultivating Project, Christina has been fascinated by beauty her whole life. Color, texture, pattern, fragrance, melody, light – all of the boundless ways in which creation shines – ignites her imagination, compelling her to create. Even as a wee sprite, Christina was dedicated to wordsmithing and sketching her way through its marvels in an attempt to capture, at least partially, the imprint of the Creator within it. But writing and drawing are not her only creative endeavors; several years ago she took on the laborious (but rewarding) task of nurturing a garden in the dismal soils of the Rocky Mountain foothills, and has eagerly employed her spade (alongside her pen) as a tool to cultivate and curate the beauty around her.
She has two little gardeners-in-training who embody all these marvels and more in their merry little faces. She and her husband Brian are the founders of the Anselm Society based in Colorado Springs, whose mission and calling is a renaissance of the Christian Imagination. She serves as the Director of the Anselm Society Arts Guild and her creative work can be found at LiveBeautiful.today and on Instagram.
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