There is something stirring in me, buzzing to get out.
Frothing, fomenting, foaming at the mouth.
It bubbles, froths; there is something like white whipped cream saliva about it, like a rabid dog.
I keep feeling the writing push, like there is something within me waiting to be born.
Several somethings, in fact.
I've had ideas for pieces come upon me like angels covering me with their wings, like the way the Holy Spirit covered Mary and she conceived a child and we called His Name Emmanuel (God with us).
But something exists called grad school, and I'm still hoping a new rhythm that involves both school writing AND my heart-writing will come upon me like a thief in the night and, again, like the Holy Spirit came upon Mary.
But I don't think it's going to be that easy.
Even now, though, as I write, something releases, and I can feel the tide fall back from the wall, and the little boy holding his finger in the crack begins to breathe a little easier.
Maybe the dam won't burst.
Not today, anyway.
Something has been on my mind recently that I keep thinking about and keep thinking about and need to figure out, even if it's only here.
After all, writing is the way I know what I think about the world, don't ya know.
Recently I've been listening to a fantastic podcast called Myths and Legends. As you might guess from that title, it's simply that: retellings of stories from folklore. Tales from Greek and Norse mythology are the more famous ones, but he also includes American folk tales, stories from African and Egyptian myth, Russian and Slavic folklore, and even stories like the Epic of Gilgamesh and Beowulf. The Greek stories are my favorites. It's a really well-done podcast, and I highly recommend it. I love the way Jason, the host, goes about telling the stories.
There's something he does that has slightly annoyed me. He tells the story, and then talks about it in a modern perspective, especially when it is, by our 21st-century standards, incredibly problematic (see: every story of Zeus almost ever). Part of me understands this, especially the part that is curious about these stories in general. That part of me asks, Why wouldn't we talk about these stories through our modern lens?
However, I've about had it up to here with the modern perspective on most things. I disagree with a lot of what is believed by a lot of people that I know personally (though I find it wiser to keep my mouth shut), and quite frankly, I'm tired of modernity.
Yes, I am weary of it, and of a culture that tells us to dissect everything.
Tolkien, my favorite author (for those of you coming in late), was a medievalist; C.S. Lewis specialized in Renaissance literature. And I've begun to think -- maybe I'm a medievalist, too. I listen to another podcast by the Anselm Society, called the Believe to See Podcast. I can't remember, but I believe it was the hosts of this podcast that first got my mind turning about a more medieval perspective. It feels like something that's been percolating for a while, though, and I can't remember where the germ of the idea came from.
All that is, of course, backstory to the roiling thoughts that are spilling up inside me. Basically, what I'm beginning to feel is this: the Enlightenment brought us a lot of great things. I am grateful for Enlightenment ideas that spawned America (muchas gracias to John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Thomas Hobbes, all of whom I was required to read in tenth grade Western Civ). I am grateful for the gains that science has made in the world.
I am not grateful for the cynicism spawned by the Enlightenment, birthed by the wars in the twentieth century, and that now comes to what looks like maturation in the age in which I have come of age, too.
Guys, I've always felt different. I think everyone feels this way, but I have to call it out in myself (because I'm the one writing this thing, dangit). Over the last couple of months I've begun to see that one of the reasons I feel this way is because I'm not willing to be a cynic.
I am not willing to dissect all stories I hear. That's part of what rubs me mildly the wrong way on Jason's podcast. I LOVE the stories -- but I ask, Do we have to dissect them through a modern lens all the time?
I listen to several other podcasts that I adore, and one of them is about Tolkien's Middle-earth, one of my three favorite things ever (besides Jesus and the opera). A lot of readers have a lot of questions about Tolkien, and how this and why that. These are all good questions, questions that help us understand.
And yet --
And yet I find that such questions have never occurred to me. I have never thought to look at a story (especially a story) and strive to comprehensively index it. I don't need to know how magic works in Harry Potter. In fact, I love the way Tolkien presents magic simply, with no explanation -- and we don't need an explanation for it to work.
In fact, I think that's part of the core of what I'm learning about myself: I don't always need an explanation.
I am willing to accept a story simply as it is.
You see, I believe in magic.
It's my word for the year, and I am finding fairy dust behind all nooks and crannies, in the pages of books, as I always have -- but also deep in the wild, in the smell of flowers, in the ring I always wear, in continuing to be amazed that I am loved.
And because I believe in magic, I find it easy to just accept a story as it is presented to me. I don't need to be scientific about it. I don't have to question everything.
And that's something that, quite frankly, burns me up about the world in which I live. I am surrounded on all sides, hemmed in, by a culture, a society that needs to question everything.
Not just question -- simple questioning is not an issue -- but the overwhelming desire seems to be to tear down.
And friends, as we seek to tear it down, we have lost our wonder.
In some cases, we need to question. Ask good questions. Appeal to our God-given reason to discern truth from falsehood. Consult our knowledge of truth to see right claims from wrong ones. I'm not saying we should just accept all things unquestioningly. That we should stop wondering, stop exploring, stop inquiring -- especially about the things that matter.
But why have we begun to tear down the magic that is all around us?
It's the need to dissect everything that has caused many to claim that there is no God, Nietzche to cry out that God is dead, God is dead, and we have killed Him.
I am not sure if what I write today makes any sense.
But maybe we can ask different kinds of questions.
Maybe instead of trying to index the magic into a scientific method, we can ask what the magic shows us. What the story shows us. We can ask what we love about a story instead of trying to tear it down.
Maybe we have all become nihilists.
What I'm saying -- what I am hoping -- is that maybe it's time to reenchant some things.
Maybe it's not a time to cease questioning -- but to allow ourselves not to ask if we don't feel the need.
Maybe it's time to let ourselves be children again.
Can we allow some things to be enchanting, enmagicked once again?
I hope that it is so -- that this time has come.
As usual, I know not what to say to wrap this up.
I wanted to write that I don't feel qualified to call anyone to anything. I don't think that's true -- but I also don't feel humble enough to do it.
As for me, though, I will continue to gaze up at the sky and look for magic. And when I find it, I will not index it -- or at least, I'll try not to.
I will hold it in my hands and drink it in slurping, sparkling golden gulps.
I will drink it to the dregs, till my soul bursts with it -- and then I will always, ever always, hunger for more.
I will denounce cynicism. He has been a poor friend to us. We only ever ache to rip things down, to devour them -- and we are never satisfied.
My Sehnsucht, my longing (as Lewis terms it) -- it shall not be for destruction, but for the sparkle that surrounds the mystery of God and that is glimmering everywhere, because He made us and everything, and we find Him where we least expect Him.
The world fizzes and pops.
Let's not flatten it, but allow it to infuse our souls with carbonation and champagne bubbles.
All around us is effervescent.
We don't always need to know how the bubbles are produced -- maybe what we need instead is to marvel at them. Not pop them, but float them on the edges of our fingertips and try to see our reflection therein.
Drink it down deep, friends.
Magic is everywhere, and we are swimming in it. If we rip down the fabric of our world, with what will we be left?
We can't see atoms; even they are taken on faith.
And it's that faith that reenchants us and wraps us up and frees us all at once.