Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Believing in Magic

The magic is gone. I feel like there isn’t magic in the world anymore. Like I know all the tricks, so now I see the wires and what’s up the magician’s sleeve. It’s like in the movie Boyhood, when young Mason realizes there aren’t really elves and fairies in the world. His dad’s attempt to soften the blow by talking about how magical a blue whale is doesn’t really comfort the disillusioned boy. So it is that the “magic” of reality doesn’t often impress me either. It’s worse than just losing the magic, which I suppose happened a long time ago. I’ve lost my wonder too.

At some point I put my head down and never looked up again. I notice the beauty of things, of nature. I’m moved by people’s stories and lives. But the magic, the sense of wonder, the mystery of hidden things and the invisible power of heaven breaking into earth, the limitless possibilities of the unknown—these have drifted off like a dream that seemed so vivid yet can’t be recalled upon waking. I need a miracle.

I worked so hard to grow up, to mature in my faith. I told myself (and preached to others) that a mature disciple doesn’t need signs and wonders, that that’s what faith entails—carrying on in the absence of such things. And I’m sure there’s important truth in that. But somewhere along the way I became some form of Deist, a naturalist and materialist whose God is very near but is content to work through nature taking its course. Maybe this is all correct and I just have to accept growing up.

Or maybe to hell with that. Maybe I need to grow young. Maybe, as Chesterton said, “we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.” Maybe I need to chase the magic and regain the wonder. Maybe it isn’t God who stopped being interesting—maybe it’s me (not maybe). Maybe it’s better to spend a life believing in magic that might not be real, wondering at mystery that possibly isn’t so mysterious, than to settle into the boredom of a small, figured-out existence. And maybe the magic is more real and the mystery more wonderful than I’d ever imagined. That’s the chance I’m going to take.

"All things are full of wonder. But we never think to wonder at them because we have, by habit, become dull to the consideration of them."  
-Gregory the Great, 6th c.


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