I used to live in a marvelous world, where fairies floated through the woods, and magical colors shone through the trees, where every horse was a unicorn, and every field had mounds of gold. Invisible bells tinkled tunes I’d never heard before. Animals talked to me, and nature danced. Then, one day, darkness covered the land. The unicorns flew back to their home in the heavens, never to return. The fairies fled the forest, which turned dull brown and green in their absence. Mounds of gold were replaced by dust, and the bells were silenced. Animals turned dumb, and nature was stilled.
At the ripe age of four, I discovered “reality,” and walked into the boring world of black and white. In addition to losing the world I loved, I reached the conclusion that all make-believe things were false. I discovered that there was no Easter bunny, and that the red glow in the sky I used to think was Rudolf’s nose turned out to be… just… a flashing radio tower light. I never questioned this change of thinking; once I knew that things just weren’t there, how could I keep imagining them?
It took me about two decades to find the world of color again, to rediscover the fairies and the bells, and to conclude that, in spite of the maturity and logic of the adulthood, it’s the children and people with imagination that truly live in the real world. Maybe fairies don’t float around with pixie dust or magical wands, and perhaps unicorns can’t fly into the sun… but, in some sense, they really are there, and children realize it. For what is a unicorn, other than an image of the majestic, mystical beauty found in a real horse that words can’t describe? What is the fairy other than a hidden angel? What are the mounds of gold and magical colors of the forest, other than the real beauty that lies in a dusty field and normal woods when we put other thoughts aside and take the time to breathe in nature? What is Rudolf, other than the image of exciting things flying our way? Children realize this. While they must learn that their magical world will never be seen with physical eyes, adults need to rediscover how to appreciate the unseen, but very real dimensions of the world that the children innately sense.
I’ve come to the conclusion that the make-believe, when rightly understood, can bring us closer to God. After all, God is the one who created beauty and sprinkled it everywhere. He is the one who thought of the wide variety of sounds that would delight our ears, the colors that would sparkle in our eyes. He is the one who strewed goodness, love and peace throughout the world. And this goodness, this love and peace, this beauty, are not static, one dimensional gifts. They are dynamic; they are alive. Our senses limit them to a flat image; our imagination can perceive their life. Too often, when children leave behind their world of make-believe, they also lose their perception of the life that imbues the true, the good and the beautiful.
And so, in conclusion, I say: let the children believe in their fairies. And why not start to believe in them yourself? Don’t look for fluttering figures with wands and pixie dust, or horses with wings. Look for the things that give life to the beauty and goodness that surround you. Look for the things that carry you swiftly forward in your experience of love and your search for truth. Those are the real fairies and the unicorns. And yes, they do exist.