Truly great ...
"If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales"
- Albert Einstein
"Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matt 11:28-29
Rest from the heat
As a kid, our next door neighbor had a pool. With a vivid imagination, the adventures took my sister and I to far-away lands. Playing "tea party", we both tried to stay submerged under water for as long as possible, legs crossed, eyes open and talking as though we were guests at a grand ball. Bubbles floating up, the view was cloudy and murky. The sound muffled but if you listened carefully, you could make out the words.
Christmas: muddling through blurred lights, the weight of expectations, voices at work and in the news, the reality of life, Yuletide carols, the sound of the register ringing; it might, at times, feel as though a person is submerged under water ... but if you press in and listen carefully - you may hear an invitation to venture to a faraway land - a castle.
The great adventure continues These are are the words I have written or taped on the right and left side of the first page of the Beauty and the Beast journal i Purchased 18 months ago: Once in a while, right in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale, author unknown. I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people and ask God to help them - intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. 1 Tim 2:1, God needs less workers for the Kingdom and more lovers of the King ... and if lost, please return to - : __________ .
This month is about Beauty, a Beast and a truly great story about love and sacrifice. The fairy tale of the same name was originally written by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, a French author who lived between April 1711 and Sept 1780. A name virtually unknown, she had over seventy volumes published in her literary career. Over hundred years later, French Film Director, Jean Cocteau adapted her fairy tale into a film in 1946. Walt Disney also tried to transform the story into an animation but failed at least twice until the 1991 debut where it was finally an instant success.
The tiny shells of this post began months ago when one of my daughters showed me the teaser trailer for a remake of one of our favorite Disney movies. It was just a taste of what was yet to come. In preparation, I opened my journal to the first page - Mother's Day 2015. That caught me by surprise because it was Mother's Day 2016, that one of my daughter's (the one that reminds me of Belle), pressed in and with a tear and quiet words, placed a key with a word etched on it's surface around my neck. I didn't know when I bought the journal many pages ago, that God was doing a work on the inside.
Through the muddled voices, I press in and listen carefully to a quiet sound ... be my guest.
An Enchanted Castle
The sound of rain splashed in puddles outside my door - just beyond the horizon of mountains, I wandered ... to a childlike place of castles, bubbles and a swash of imagined rooms of stories and dreams. Lumiere (a candle-stick), Cogsworth (a clock) there is a story that traverses through a grand carpet of four-leaf clovers into a large, beautiful room with one glass bowl and two gold fish.
Dolphins making bubbles, men making bigger bubbles, we are uniquely designed for a whimsical expression of the elements of Christmas - we only need to be like children. With each passing year, we fight the waves of being jaded toward adulthood. Innocence is the colors seen in a simple bubble - a mixture of water, soap and air. The sound is simple too - it is the raindrops that pitter, patter on a window-sill of an old vintage window - a castle.
What if your story could be re-written?
Always a sensitive kid, I have held onto hurts of feeling as though I was excluded; rocks that weighted my backpack down but in a turn of events, one by one God is in the process of changing those rocks into simple words written on strips of torn paper as an Ebenezer (Hebrew - stone of help), of God's active presence in my life. They are markers pointing to stories re-written in the grace of a baby in a simple manger of love.
This year, I was going to be excluded from going to a production of a theatrical presentation of Beauty & the Beast so weeks BEFORE the 130+ people left, I purchased one single ticket to the last rehearsal before the opening of the show. It was a solo date where God was re-writing my story into one of inclusion.
Through overgrown trees and a thick, heavy night Belle searched for her father through the fog of doubt and worry - love propeled her forward. Held prisoner, the daughter agreed to stand in her father's place in exchange for his freedom. Her father protested but in a quick motion, the spell was spun.
It is in the castle that the mystery begins.
I have only been to one castle, Hearst Castle which sits high on top of a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean. With breathtaking views, the once home of William Randolph Hearst (Newspaper magistrate and entrepreneur) was a place of Hollywood extravagance in the 1920's and 1930's. It was here that Hearst and Marion Davies entertained big named guests into a world of inclusion.
If you read the category Reflections, the first word you will see is the word, Map and a story about a violin and the musical inspiration behind this website. The same event that brought me to a symphony brought me to Hearst Castle (after hours) in the dark at Christmas - twice.
Although I have toured the castle several times, there was one night that stood out in memory above the rest. It was a magical, enchanted evening that began with the gentle drizzle of rain, an old tour bus whose brakes creaked and moaned up a steep grade and a thick, heavy fog that surrounded the evening like a cozy, warm blanket on a winter's night. Upward we traveled slow and steady - a sense of anticipation grew.
As we exited the bus, umbrellas blew backwards as the giggles of laughter drifted out beyond the clouds and out across the ocean mingling between shells and stars. There was an orange glow around a magnificent swimming pool with tiles of gold. The vintage lamp-posts lit with oil reminded me that we were stepping backwards in time where mystery and wonder dwelled. I imagined myself as a guest here where men and women swam under the stars of a warm summer's night but tonight Christmas hung thick in the air and the fragrance of hope settled in under the warmth of an invitation.
Through a child's eyes, Christmas is filled with the hope of a dream. Not muddling through the sound of water, they believe with amazement... simple and uncomplicated, their hearts are filled with an abundant capacity to hope and love. It is not by accident that I include the words from Matthew 11 at the beginning of this month's post. It is in this scripture that Jesus promises rest for one's soul. About three weeks ago, I stumbled across my own handwriting in one of my bibles - it was 1997 and the image was given to me of climbing into a father's lap and feeling His warm embrace. It caught me by surprise when I heard the image and brought me back to a faith as if I was a child again.
In an old classic tale, Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer remained with me through the years as a child's hope of Christmas. It is a reindeer that ushers a bunch of mis-fit toys into a world of inclusion - where they are the cherished gift on Christmas morning. In Beauty and the Beast, Lumiere (the candlestick) and Cogsworth (the clock) hope, with a quiet anticipation, that it is a girl that can break the spell. The beast must learn to love deeply and in return accept the cherished love of someone else before the last rose pedal drops.
Ordinary people need to hear of an extraordinary hope.
There are two stories in the bible that tell of an unexpected hidden treasure. Both stories are intricately linked to the kingdom of heaven - a castle. Time and time again, faith stories weave the depth of quality with the width of the unexpected and in both instances the finding of one object is the key to a change. It is an entrance, a beginning - a starting point to a journey.
That hope is found in the unexpected ..... a baby.
It is a simple story of a relationship with Jesus, nothing more and nothing less. With a deep and authentic love, there is a hope for something greater. We read about the life, death and resurrection of Christ, Jesus but it began on Christmas morning where a baby slept. Wrapped in a blanket, surrounded by a mother and father, under a star pointing to Bethlehem, a little one with all the wonder and mystery of life.
Does the Father guard your heart for now?
So You can sleep tonight?
Go to sleep my Son
Go and chase your dreams
This world can wait for one more moment
Go and sleep in peace
Joseph's Lullaby by Mercy Me.
Children are small for just a short time ... with the simplicity of a tree, matching pajamas, looking at lights, leaving milk and cookies for Santa; it is the little traditions that preserve a child's innocence for just a bit longer. In a simple prayer, the father lifts his son up in peace and love. Could Joseph (the step-father to Jesus) possibly have known the weight that would be placed on a man's shoulders?
That is true for children. Can we possibly know the journey that will take them into adulthood? On many occasions, Jesus instructed adults to come to God, the father with a childlike faith. Bubbles, castles, the fairy tale world of Beauty and the Beast. If I was to be honest, the beast is me ... it is each of us. It is when my temper spouts in words best not said, it is when I put my selfish ambitions before the healing wounds of another, it is when I fall short in every possible way. Beauty is the love that somehow through it all permeates the exterior appearance before the final petal drops.
Christmas is NOT a children's fairy tale but the story of a life found in him. There IS a key, however, a map and a light that shines brightly through an old castle window. Look to the scriptures, search for the heart of Christ, surrender the weight of this life before a cross ... but today, sit cross legged, listening very carefully to the words through the muddled sound of water; it is a story where His water fills you to an overflow of joy and an abundance of hope so great that your heart cannot help but to splash over the muddied edges of this life.
The Kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. Matthew 13:45.
Truly great stories ... have a measure of awe and wonder. May you too discover hope this Christmas and a life found in Jesus - for wherever the journey leads, expect the unexpected; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21.
Peace be with you now and forever.
Pictures provided by Fotolia or myself, music may be purchased from I-Tunes, video links found on YouTube, references from Wikipedia and written material are my own, copyright 2016.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wuVgXJ55G6Y (Sea World bubbles)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGwBDchDLPg (Beauty and the Beast)
I've searched for God, Cutting Edge CD, 1997 - Delirious
What a Friend I've Found, King of Fools CD, 1998 Delirious
A person who searches for depth and beauty in the simple things.