Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Lent 24: magic.

"Someone needs to tell stories. When the battles are fought and won and lost, when the pirates find their treasures and the dragons eat their foes for breakfast with a nice cup of Lapsang souchong, someone needs to tell their bits of overlapping narrative. There's magic in that. It's in the listener and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict. From the mundane to the profound. You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone's soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they do because of it, because of your words... There are different kinds of magic after all." -from The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I just finished reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. It was one of those rare novels that completely captivated me. The story was so alive that I couldn't put it down.

Reading it, I was reminded of the power of narrative. How wild tales of magic and love and death and intrigue, draw out some kind of magic in ourselves. In the most fantastic situations, we see glimmers of our own experiences, flashes of our deepest desires and fears.

I think that the Christian tradition at it's best has this kind of magic in it. When we participate in liturgy we are becoming a part of a great story. Over and over again through word, song and sacrement we participate in the story of God's redemptive power; we experience the embodiment of Jesus' life, death and resurrection. In these living stories we find ourselves, and see God's creative work in our own lives.

During Lent we are reminded of the many stories of people called into the wilderness: from Abraham and Moses to John the Baptist and Jesus. We recall their wild stories of narrow escapes from death, of wrestling with God, of miracles, of freedom, and of transformation. We are invited to imagine how our lives are also a wilderness landscapes for such miraculous tales to unfold. Following a Lenten path means not only to be captivated by the story of God, but to participate in that story. If it is true that the best stories have a kind of magic in them, then Lent might be thought of as a chance to practice magic and cast the most sacred spells: an opportunity to change the world by telling an ancient tale anew.


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