I’ve felt recently kind of bogged down with intriguing intellectual questions, wading through a pit of pragmatic alternatives, struggling to find my place in this ambiguous, complicated and grey world. While much of this has been rewarding and reworked my understanding of Gospel principles and realities in a way that strengthened the foundations of my faith, an unnecessary and detrimental side effect has been the loss of the ‘magic’. The feeling of awe and wonder at God’s greatness. The delightful little occurrences that feel like they were caused by wizards and witches from Hogwarts or mutants with extraordinary powers.
Perhaps an apt analogy can be drawn from the Spielberg classic Hook. Robin Williams as Peter Banning (Peter Pan) is brought back to Neverland and forced to try and remember and recapture the happiness that let him fly. He struggles for most of the film, but eventually taps into that joy. However, this happy thought is more complex and challenging—his children. Illustrating that he has undergone a change, but is now fusing the childlike joy and glee of Neverland with his responsibility and maturity driven by love for others. (The analogy isn’t perfect and doesn’t extend throughout the film, but I think still has value.)
I’ve had similar feelings to Peter upon his return to Neverland. Bewilderment, thinking that he had achieved a higher state of living than the Lost Boys and everyone else, but this left him lonely and joyless. I occasionally feel similarly at Church, that the comments shared and other things are juvenile or in other ways simplistic and lacking in understanding. While this may be true, my focus on that misses the exuberance for life that their comments and insights convey. Who am I (not 24601) to deride their spiritual experiences and understanding? If what they believe works for them and brings them closer to God, then that’s good enough for the moment (maybe. Obviously, faith needs to be in something that’s true to be faith and not simply empty hoping and wishing, but I think there is probably a range of acceptable beliefs and the intentions will sanctify those that may believe a little wrongly. More thought needs to go into this).
So, as someone with a skeptical mindset, questioning many things and having developed a more nuanced and complicated paradigm for understanding the world and God’s interactions with humankind, why did I lose the sense of wonder? Can I get it back? Where’s the magic?
I think I began to focus too much on institutional and other large-scale problems that are far beyond my ability to resolve. While, it is important to understand those problems and issues, I personally need to focus on what I can do as an individual to bless others. And to look for God’s hand in my life, seeking divine guidance and inspiration—the magic.
Luckily, I had some brushes with the divine magic recently, reviving some spiritual joyous sparks. Like most twenty-somethings, I have been trying to figure out my FUTURE. I spent the summer in DC, which helped and hurt, drawing me towards politics, while simultaneously pushing me away. I loved my experience and the city, but I cannot go into politics, it’ll suck me in and I’ll be forever trapped in its tide, swirling around and around barely gasping for breath. And it doesn’t give me the same joy that reading, discussing and analyzing Dickens or Austen or James or Wilde does. However, it took a father’s blessing and watching Dead Poets Society to drive home what I feel called to do. And just as the wands in Ollivander’s choose the wizard, being an English professor has chosen me.
Yeah, that sounds cheesy and cliché, but it feels right. And, admitting that there can be that sort of guidance, like Inigo’s father guiding his sword to hit the right knot, builds that fire and my faith. Sure, I don’t know if that’s what happened and you can probably come up with a way to explain my feelings, yet I still believe that I was (and ideally am) touched and guided by something divine. That for me is faith. Not knowing, but believing in God’s guiding, sanctifying hand.
And that’s the magic. Pretty simple really. Believing in something a little supernatural. Privileging that belief over the pragmatism that fights with it (a tension I explored about a year ago).
God loves me and you and you, and yes, even you. I choose to believe that because of that love, Our Heavenly Parents guide and comfort us when needed. They reach out letting droplets of divine love and inspiration grace our minds and hearts. That is my happy thought and now I can fly (and fight and crow).