The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper. ~Eden Phillpotts
What if there was magic in the world that was just out of your view? What if by honing your instincts, by taking the time to look at life a little more closely, it revealed itself? The magic I’m talking about here has nothing to do with sleight of hand or pulling a bunny out of a hat. It’s about the magical realization that there’s more to life than what meets the eye.
On the public radio show Fresh Air, the author Amber Scorah was recently discussing her new memoir Leaving The Witness. It’s about her life as a Jehovah’s Witness, a religion she left as a young adult. During her conversation with the host, she was asked about her current spiritual beliefs, now that she was no longer moored to a religion. Her (lightly edited) response was thought-provoking:
If we don’t see magic in our own lives, it may be due to the fact we don’t slow down long enough to notice what is going on around us. It may be our human conditioning that we sit back and wait for magic to happen to us, instead of realizing that we have to be an active participant and part of the process. Writing in The Universal Christ, Richard Rohr opines that:
My spirituality is related to this kind of a spiritual feeling I think I’ve had my whole life, which I used to chalk up to being a religious experience. I think of it more now of as a spiritual experience. It’s just that there’s the magical all around us, and life is made up of these moments where, if you choose to notice them, they’re around you. And because those things, like the love I saw in my son’s eyes for me when he was a baby, are so inexplicable and transcendent, I think that they feel magical. If you think about them that way, you can in some way appreciate the magic of it.
I think humans prefer magical religion, which keeps all the responsibility on God performing or not performing. Whereas mature and transformational religion asks us to participate, cooperate, and change.
This lack of “participation” comes at a cost. Thomas Moore, writing in The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life, says that:
Those of us who have been brought up in a secular culture don’t realize how much our lives have been impoverished by the lack of magic.
What is missing according to Moore is our inability to see “the penetrating experience of every experience that rises out of a world that is alive and that has deep and mysterious roots.” He tells us that to live in a magical world, “we have to assume the role of magician in our everyday lives.” When we live by magic, “we don’t try to understand everything that is happening and everything we’re doing. We allow nature to remain mysterious, but we tap into it to share its hidden powers.”
For you and me, this means stopping to take notice of the magical moments around us, the small wonders that are part of our daily landscape. Our senses dulled by habit and routine, we can tend to overlook them. In his own case, Moore mentions the following examples from around his own home.
- The road near my house appears as a true friend when I’ve been away on a trip.
- The tree just outside my kitchen window is a good companion as I wash dishes.
- The birds with their outrageous colors and habits, their cries and swoops, the acrobatic way of animating the sky, their songs and chants.
The magic may already be there in your own life, waiting to be discovered. It may just involve looking at the world with new eyes, actively seeking the magical instead of waiting for it to find you.