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Surrendering to Magical Moments

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So you want to believe in magic, do you? That’s the conclusion I draw from the unusually high interest in my last post, The Magical Now, second only to my June post explaining spirituality to Supreme Court Justice Anton Scalia.

Or maybe there are just a lot of folks off work this week with extra time to read random blogs.

Whatever the reason, my response as a blogger must be to draft another post with the word “magical” in the title because it’s all about views and likes and followers and statistics. Right? One must build one’s “platform.”

Not so much. That’s what I was told when I started blogging, but the stats goal has proved less than inspiring — hardly worth emptying your heart onto the page week after week, year after year. Catchy titles or no, blogging, for me, is mostly about connecting: with people, with ideas, and with spirit.

Which brings us back to magic.

Magic is about connection. Connecting the dots, connecting the seen with the unseen, connecting with elements or spirits or entities greater than ourselves.

Magic is also about control, or the hope of control. The official definition of magic is “the power of apparently influencing the course of events by using mysterious or supernatural forces.” Ah, yes, the illusion of control. How well I remember it. 

Surrendering to the Season

The enchantment that reigns during this ‘in-between,” liminal Christmas week is of the connection variety, not the control variety. It’s spiritual, more than magical. It’s about surrendering the need to control, and connecting to the peace and love of the season.

But that doesn’t mean you don’t have some control. You do. You have choices.

This week, you can choose to slow down enough to notice the spiritual. Allow the waters of your soul to calm so that you can see past the surface to what’s underneath.

You can choose to open your hands and accept the gift of grace that’s offered at this time of year. You may not be able to “influence the course of events” through magic, but you might find a touch of what the bible calls “the peace that passes all understanding.”

“The Darkness Draws Back”

In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Marcellus waxes eloquent about this “gracious” season “wherein our Saviour’s birth is celebrated,” and “the bird of dawning singeth all night long;” the rooster’s crowing keeps the powers of darkness at bay.

Horatio responds, “So have I heard, and do in part believe.” Like many of us, Horatio kind of wants to believe, but he can’t quite allow his mind to surrender to the truth he senses in his spirit.

One of my favorite lines in the bible is a man telling Jesus, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.” He recognizes that we need divine help to release our illusions of control, to let go of our agendas, to be still and stand in the threshold between this world and the next, hands unclenched and wide open.

I like how author Frederick Buechner frames the choice we have this week:

“At Christmastime it is hard even for the unbeliever not to believe in something if not in everything. Peace on earth, good will to men; a dream of innocence that is good to hold on to even if it is only a dream; the mystery of being a child; the possibility of hope . . . For a moment or two, the darkness of disenchantment, cynicism, doubt, draw back at least a little, and all the usual worldly witcheries lose something of their power to charm. Maybe we cannot manage to believe with all our hearts. But as long as the moments last, we can believe that this is of all things the thing most worth believing. And that may not be as far as it sounds from what belief is.”

May your magical moments last. Happy new year!

magical tree

A magical tree, encountered in a magical land

The Magical Now

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The week between Christmas and New Year’s seems a sacred time, what’s called a “thin place” in Celtic spirituality: a place where the lines blur between this world and the next, the material and the metaphysical, the mundane and the spiritual. It’s liminal space, from the Latin meaning “threshold.”

We stand in the threshold of a new year, looking forward and looking back. The tree is still up, the radio is still playing Oh Holy Night, and you still see the occasional Santa hat or reindeer antlers bobbing down the grocery store aisle. People still smile at strangers for no reason.

The mood is bittersweet because we know the magic and the random smiles will soon be over, but now — right now — I revel in this in-between time.

The slight melancholy of what’s been lost is tinged with a burgeoning excitement of what might be. We get misty eyed singing “Should old acquaintance be forgot,” (especially when we’re singing it with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed at the end of It’s a Wonderful Life), but we also look to the new year with childlike hope and anticipation.

Not everybody loves New Year’s Eve, but everybody loves contemplating new beginnings, even if they are the same new beginnings they contemplated the year before and the year before that, but never pursued. Maybe this will be the year . . .

This week’s WordPress photo challenge is well-timed. “Sometimes,” it says, “we get caught up in nostalgia, future fantasy, or both, and we don’t embrace the ‘now.’ For this week’s challenge, take a moment to notice your present, and share a photo of it.”

My “now” is a little sad. I miss my mom and my brother this time of year; the two-year anniversary of my brother’s passing was last week. At the same time, I am amazed at the transformation and healing I’ve experienced over the past year, and God’s presence and action is undeniable. I am challenged and growing in my new role as Pastor of Prayer and Healing at my church, and I feel as if I’m fully in the flow of cosmic intent. I’m expectant and excited to see what God has planned for me in 2016.

Here’s the photo I’ve selected to represent my now: a photo of my journal and my well-worn bible, taken at a recent quiet retreat day. This is my now – a time of reflection and connecting with Spirit, of letting go and of looking forward with hope.

As you ponder the past year and anticipate the next, I hope that you’ll take time to be present to this liminal week. Stand in the magical threshold of NOW with me and dare to dream.

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