One day I took a walk down to the barn with Willie. It was a cold, blustery afternoon and I was wearing my hat and gloves, clutching my arms to myself as I walked against the wind. It was just about dusk and there were pink streaks parading across the sky before the shadows set in, a picture of any movie poster.
When Willie and I got to the barn I heaved the door open, and out came Magnolia, the barn cat, to greet me and make sure I gave her a kiss. I switched on the little black radio, flipped the lightswitch, and walked over to the cage where my family of bunnies live. I sang out greetings.
"Hello, funny bunnies! How are you this fine day? You're so cute." I picked up the two babies, one in each arm, and kissed their fluffy little heads. "You are so funny! Are you keeping warm, my dears?"
Then I turned around, and that's when I saw it.
A string of Christmas lights my daddy had strung from the rafters over the swinging door that leads into the donkeys' pen. A hundred red, blue, green, and yellow prisms twinkling from the hay and cobwebs. They glowed like little fires, and I felt a warm fire begin to glimmer inside me.
And it was magic.
Of course, it wasn't really. My daddy strung the lights there, and they turned on when I hit the lightswitch. Nothing magic about that. But when I saw them and my heart gasped, somehow it was, and I knew it was. There was no other word to describe it.
I'm not talking about the kind of magic that uses spells and potions and decks of cards and causes such controversy in pop culture. I don't know about that kind. I'm talking about kind of magic that sends a thrill up your spine at a good ghost story told around a fire on a harvest-moon night; the glow in a child's eyes on Christmas eve; the spark that passes between two people when they realize they're meant to be. That's what magic is to me. And people, that's real.
It isn't just for children. It's only easier for children to believe because everyone's telling them to believe it. But magic is for everyone, if you'll open your eyes and let it into your soul. A good deed done -- a smile given -- a warm fire on a cold night -- a thousand crackling stars so bright you could stick your hand out and grab one. It's all magic.
Last week I was in a musical. While I was in it there were many times when I felt like it would go on forever...but then it didn't, and suddenly it was all over and it was time to strike the set. (If you've ever been in a musical you probably know that striking the set can be an extremely depressing thing.) So that happened. But the real fun came after the work was completed and everything cleaned up, when one of the stage guys pulled out the harness-thing they use to 'fly' people in theater and all of a sudden it became apparent that he was going to let any of us try it. (!!!!!!!!!)
When it came my turn, I felt shivery. I got strapped into the harness, and then, within an instant, I was in the air. I floated thirty feet above everyone else, dangling like a puppet in a marionette show, completely airborne. I screamed like a little girl.
And that was magic.
You see, it's the silly little things just as much as the grand big ones. You've got to notice -- it's there. It was magic when I was lifted into the air by a rope like I was Peter Pan. It was magic when the first snow squall of the season came last week and showered my soul with fluffy white crystals. It was magic when my favorite song came on the radio the other night as I sat on the table in the barn, completely out of the blue.
I'm not preaching a taro-card, fairy wand, witch's broom magic. I'm talking about the God-given gifts we so often treat casually -- the excitement so many people lose as they get older and more weighted down with adult responsibilities. I don't want to ever lose that. I don't want to ever stop freaking out over the first snow of the winter, and I don't want to begin to ignore all the little blessings God gives me for no other reason than because He loves me. I hope I can hold on to that childish sparkle forever, because it's something very precious. It's the real magic.
And just for the record, yes, I do believe in it.
(Willie is my dog, by the way. ;-))