Nov 22 2011

The Deeper Magic

Hungry and tired, she waited for the campus bus, the visible world reduced to the lamp light’s reach. The chill made her burrow deeper into her jacket, the library’s warmth only a memory in the foggy twilight.

Decisions yet to be made pressed in upon her. She worried at all the questions as she worried at her frayed sleeve, plucking threads and watching the fabric unravel. A familiar sting pricked her eyes.

Clenching her teeth, she shoved her hands back into her pockets, roughly setting her thoughts against the ache and her eyes to look for distant headlights.

And there, on the sidewalk, she saw them, just at the edge between sight and obscurity:

Paw prints.

Large paw prints, like some gigantic creature only meant for the wilds had stepped through paint and then sprinted into the darkening fog.

She half-turned away. It was cold. Late. I’ll take a closer look tomorrow, she decided. 

Pinpricks of bus lights cut through the fog. Supper and bed beckoned. Warmth and sleep wooed.

Yet her eyes kept finding their way back to the prints. Even in the fog, she could just make out more marking a path into the distance. A little spark of adventure flickered to life in her heart. A little less weariness weighed down her limbs.

She hardly noticed stepping out from the certainty of the stop.

She followed, up and around, down and back, street lamps lighting her way, one moment certain she had lost the trail only to find it again further up and further in, until the paw prints finally stopped.

And she stopped; breathing deep from the chase, hope of a deeper magic rising in her heart.

At the end of the trail, scrawled joyfully on the pavement, were two shimmering words from her childhood, catching her up in the Story, breaking past all her doubts, filling the ache, until her heart spilled over in laughter and tears and laughter again:

 

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ASLAN LIVES!!

 

(And edited repost from the archives, in honor of CS Lewis Day, and based on Deborah Smith Douglas’ mention of finding paw prints on Duke University’s campus and following them to the joyful words.  She writes: “I simply, with all my heart, recognized the transforming truth of the affirmation. Aslan is alive. Resurrection happens. Christ is risen.  In a single leap, Aslan had bounded past the watchful dragons of my mind and all the intervening years to return…Because my whole childhood rose up to greet the Lion, my tenuously sophisticated young-adult self had no defenses against the saving “allelujah!” truth of that moment.” –Weavings, Jan/Feb 1997, 21)

 


Nov 12 2009

Commit to Your Life

Impact

Ripples

As I walked yesterday, thoughts about my prospectus swirled in my mind, as they have for months.  Fifteen pages seems so small compared to papers and projects I have previously written.  It also seems a tiny number in comparison to the stack of pages that will ultimately comprise my dissertation.  I have been learning from these chaotic thoughts and fears the difference between simply writing to fulfill course expectations and writing that flows from a much deeper place: from what compels me, from what wakes me up at night and begs to be expressed–not for myself alone, or for a grade.

As I wrestle with writing, a phrase keeps coming to mind: commit to your life.  There is no other life than the one I am living right now, so one option is to write. Now.  Not when I no longer feel panic. Not when I have a cottage by a lake or peaceful mountain view.  Not when I have memorized everything about my topic. Nothing will magically make expressing ideas from my visual brain into words any less difficult or writing from my passion (from the Latin passio, suffering) any less painful.  Certainly, there is also joy, but not all the time. The ideal time, setting, mood or  Susan will not suddenly appear.

If I wait, I will never write.

Or I could choose not to write. A perfectly fine choice.

But I can’t imagine that.  Oh, I can vow I’m done with it all, but something keeps bringing me back to the page.  Something keeps nudging me to commit to my life,  “put it in writing,” risk making some ripples, and trust that something good and beautiful can come of it.


Jan 11 2009

Believing is Seeing

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In a delightful children’s book called Tales of the Kingdom, Karen Mains tells the story of Hero, a young boy who finds a gateway into Great Park. He has been raised to believe that there is no safe place, that children are not suppose to laugh or play, that the Enchanter’s dominion is absolute, and that the story of a loving King is a fairytale. In Great Park, one of the favorite activities for the children is Sighting Day where they play “seek-the-king.” Hero doesn’t believe in the King, so he doesn’t recognize him in his many different disguises. For Hero, seeing is believing, but in the Kingdom, “believing is seeing.”

The lectionary text for Sunday is Mark 1:4-11, the Baptism of Jesus. We have just celebrated Christmas–the revelation of God in the birth of Christ, a mystery of enormous beauty; then Epiphany, the manifestation and witnessing of this revelation by the wise travelers. Now, the curtain is pulled back further. Jesus is baptized and sees “the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove.” He hears a voice from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” I’d like to think that John saw and heard this exchange as well–that John’s belief allowed him to see into glorious reality.

For Hero and John, each must first be open in order to see something amazing–not foreign or somehow separate from life, but in and through it, when everything becomes more real. Hero ultimately sees the King when he allows himself to let go of fear, and begins to play and laugh. He begins to hope and trust the strange loving people he has met–and the King appears . John actively looks for the one who “will baptize…with the Holy Spirit,” and is primed to see the heavens torn apart, and the second person of the Trinity in human flesh.

(photo: SF)

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