Monday, March 18, 2013

A world that works like magic

Posted simultaneously at Sturdy Answers.
Every once in awhile I get a little too caught up in the books I read.
About 50 pages into a good book, I become the main characters. My adrenaline pumps when they're in danger. I cry when they experience growth or grace. I find myself praying for them when they're in dire need of divine intervention. But these tendencies are not the problem.
The problem is that sometimes I finish a book series, go about my day, and have moments when I  forget I'm not the main character in the book anymore.
Case in point: Not too long ago I finished re-reading the Harry Potter series. For ten glorious days I was immersed in the world of Hogwarts. I went to sleep under an enchanted starry ceiling, and woke up to House Elves bustling about to prepare my breakfast. I used my magic wand to fetch distant objects and make nearby objects invisible. I was Harry Potter fighting dementors one day, and Hermione Granger outsmarting Death Eaters the next. I was swept up in something bigger than myself. No big deal.
But then, I finished the series and had to return to work. It was a particularly wet and gloomy day, and in the middle of teaching college freshmen I got a hankering for a steaming cup of tea. But the coffee cart was miles away, and class wouldn't be over for another hour. So what did I do? I reached for the magic wand I had stashed in my robe. Naturally, I planned to summon a cup of tea. And then I remembered that I wasn't Harry Potter. Or Hermione Granger. Or Ron Weasely.
My disappointment got me thinking. Wouldn't it have been lovely if God had made a world full of magic, like Narnia, or Hogwarts, or the Shire?!
Then, several days later, while on a walk, I saw this:
A magic wand. Long and slender, sturdy at the base and narrow at the tip, surrounded by dozens of other magic wands.
And magic of all magic, something was shooting out of its tip. Something unexpected. Something so different from the wand's soft, sappy core, you'd have to see it to believe it:
Leaves. Waxy, vibrant, and green.
And blossoms. Fragrant and delicate, in shades of pink, white, and yellow.
What makes this magic?
I'll tell you, but you won't believe me.
It's light. And water. And air. They are stirred together in the great blue sky cauldron, and they make wooden wands shoot out magic:



Prickle balls.

And cotton ball clusters.

All wooden wands, all imbibing the same sky-cauldron's potion, each wand's magic just a little different.
J.K. Rowling and C.S. Lewis couldn't have dreamt up this kind of magic. A stick absorbs sun, air, and water, making leaves sprout, followed by buds. The buds unfold into blossoms and the blossoms turn into fruit. Juicy, tart fruit with seeds. Smooth, fleshy fruit with pits. Vitamin-packed fruit in shades of brilliant orange, green, yellow, red, blue, purple — all the colors of the sun's magical light.
How can it be that the fruit from these magic wands powers our dusty bodies to produce millions of cells daily, and keeps blood pumping through our 60,000 miles of blood vessels?!
Magic for us to see. Magic for us to smell. Magic for us to touch. Magic for us to taste.
Magic to teach us at winter's end that death does not have the last word. For light, air and water are mixed together and make a barren tree sprout life.
These magic wands make it easy for me to believe in the magic the ancients taught. An apple is eaten and life with God is lost. A stick hits a rock and water gushes out. Trumpets are blown and city walls tumble. A leper bathes in the river and he is healed. God's son dies on a cross, and takes our sin upon himself. Three days pass, and he teaches us that death will not have the last word.
Life-giving, fruit-growing magic.

Revised and reposted from the archives.

© by scj

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