“Know You What It Is To Be a Child?”


“Know you what it is to be a child?” asked the poet Francis Thompson. “It is to be so little that the elves can reach to whisper in your ear; it is to turn pumpkins into coaches, and mice into horses, lowness into loftiness, and nothing into everything . . .”

I love that! But the words that follow are musings from a rather bummed out magic pony. That would be me. You see, my four-year-old magic faerie princess (who took time out on Sunday morning to be an angel in our Christmas pageant; she’s amazingly talented and versatile) had to go home yesterday (and my five-year-old princess and 18-month-old dear little dwarf were unable to come).

At first, I told Her Little Highness that, as her magic pony, I’d consider it my duty to take care of the magic castle while she was away, but she didn’t think that would work, and now I see that she’s right. Air Force One is a really cool airplane even when the president is not aboard, but it’s not Air Force One unless he is. I like my shed/greenhouse/man-cave, but when the little folks aren’t there, neither is the magic.

The magic faerie princess christened me her “pony” early on in this weekend’s adventure. She doesn’t like it when I talk about it much to outsiders, but I’ll just mention that we started the journey on a trampoline but soon found that some orcs and trolls were carrying on their mischief in the area. (Black birds are, we discovered, on their side, but white birds are our friends.) If we spotted a party of orcs, we road as fast as we could, and, if they got too close, we found that her magic could transform her pony into a magic unicorn (magic because it could fly; your run-of-the-mill unicorns can’t), and we’d fly off to a magic pool no orcs could reach, the water of which, if you drink it, renders you invisible.

I’m giving too many details here. Suffice it to say that if a magic faerie princess has a broken wing, the good dwarfs who work the caves have among them a dwarf doctor who is good with such things.

We ended up back in her magic castle where she rules and makes the most delectable soup for her magic pony and other subjects. The castle comes complete with chimes that announce her arrival, multi-colored stars that twinkle, a Christmas tree and a couple of stockings, and cacti (cactuses, you know) near the window which are beautiful but have thorns through which orcs cannot pass without dire consequences to their sorry hides.

The joy really is in the journey. On this one, I realized yet again how pure and magical and deeply sweet are such moments, even more precious as we know they are fleeting here and can’t be captured or held except in memory.

January follows December. It’s not a bad month, inherently un-joyful; it’s just easily greyed out and bludgeoned into boredom by bean-counters and bureaucrats too insensible to know how deep is their loss as they trod roughshod over diamonds of delight and don’t even see the sparkle.

Adulthood follows childhood. It frightens me to think that though we want our magic faerie princesses to grow, well, the human adult can be one of the dullest and most insensible creatures imaginable. It often takes years to pass through that valley and then God uses something wonderful, like a magic faerie princess or two, and a delightful dwarf or a few, to bring back the magic.

No wonder our Lord was pointing to children when he said, “Of such is the kingdom.” Ah, that’s a kingdom worth loving!

And, I keep reminding myself, a Lord who can turn a stable into a palace and a manger into a crib fit for the King, can be trusted to perform the miracle it takes to keep the hearts of magic faerie princesses and dear little dwarves, and, much more difficult, even us adults, open to His joy.



Copyright 2012 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

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