That’s the magic. We have no idea. Ever. We have no idea until the storm passes and we are on our backs in a field ten miles away from home….
Surprise is where the magic lives, between the margins of to-do lists, the aftermath of the eviction notice, the tiny movements on the ultrasound machine….
Or maybe, somewhere, deep within us, sits a pocket of magic. And once in a while, we are given the option to tap into it, to watch from the audience as the rabbit comes bounding out of the hat, free and fearless and full-speed ahead, surprising even the man with the wand.
I’ve been a big Rebecca Woolf fan for years, and I think you should all be reading her blog if you’re not already. But this most recent post, Magic, struck me even more than her words usually do. I read it weeping, smiling, realizing that yes, yes, and yes, she was saying all the things I knew but hadn’t been able to put into words before. She writes about exactly a year ago, the day she found out the third child she and her husband conceived after much deliberation was actually twins. That was not the plan. And it was, in the end, magic. Absolute, utter magic.
And she is right. There is sheer magic in those surprises, those shocks, those startling moments when we wake up and see life itself shining like foil being shaken in our eyes (shook foil is one of my favorite images for awareness). However they come – with a thunderclap or a quiet whisper – these moments of magic all remind us that we are not in charge. We are not pulling the strings. Instead we are gazing up at a star-speckled night sky, believing in the design even if it is so vast that we can’t see it from where we stand. That belief – that all this randomness, good and bad and painful and beautiful, adds up to some kind of whole whose meaning is much larger than its individual parts – is magic.
Maybe children see this better than we do. When Rebecca writes about her son, Archer, it reminds me of my Grace. He has an uncanny ability to see, and express, truths that far exceed the reaches of most logical human minds. When I read Rebecca’s poetic musings on magic I thought of something Grace said, just last summer. I was putting her to bed the last night before she went to sleepover camp for 10 days. As I kissed her goodnight I could literally sense the churning river of time flowing through the room. I told Grace I’d miss her, enormously, and that while I knew she’d miss me she should remember that she was having an enormous adventure, and I would be living my ordinary life, which would remain unchanged when she returned. She leaned back, looked me right in the eye, and pronounced with undeniable intensity:
Her words startled me, took my breath away by pointing out something right in front of me that I had forgotten to admire. By reminding me of the surprise, and the magic, that exists in both the littlest moments and the lightning storms of life.