When I was a girl, I believed in fairies. I used to make little "houses" in the woods where I lived, hoping to entice a fairy to settle down and stay for awhile. I would check on my house everyday, hoping to find some evidence that a fairy had visited. Once I found a toad residing in my fairy's house. But I never saw a fairy.
My Grandma lived next door to us, and she loved nature. My siblings and I would see her every day in the summer. We'd help her in her garden, climb her mulberry tree and eat its fruit until we were sick, and sit on her porch with her as she named each bird visiting her feeders. She showed us the butterflies that laid their eggs on her milkweed, and we'd check on them every day as the hatched and grew and eventually spun their own cocoons. She taught us which plants and berries growing in the woods were edible, and which would make us sick. She took us on walks and showed us how the ants made their anthills next to the path, and how to spy the tadpoles and minnows in the creek, and how to look at the sun and know which way to turn in the woods to head towards home. I never saw a fairy with my Grandma, but I learned to see the magic all around us.
My mom (being her mother's daughter) knew all about the magic in nature too. She showed us how to dig up bulbs, and how there was life inside something that looked dead and shriveled. She knew the names of every flower and bird and weed in the yard, and always knew some interesting fact about each one to wow us with. She taught us to explore and get dirty and find the joy in the simple things that God created. And she entertained my thoughts of fairies and allowed my creative stories to find a voice.
When I had children, I vowed they would see the magic in life too. And they have! One day last week, we watched a mama robin chase a squirrel away from her nest, then fly off. We heard the tiniest little peeps, and soon mama robin returned with a worm in her beak, and we got to watch her feed her little babies right in the tree over our heads. My kids went to school that day with magic in their hearts and huge smiles on their faces.
My daughter, like I did, believes in fairies. She checked a book out from the library last week about how to make fairy houses. She cannot wait for summer days to play outside and build these houses! I show her the real "magic" in the world--one flower bud opening up into a cluster of hundreds of purple flowers. The plant we discovered this week that smells just like lemon drops. The spittle bug who lays his eggs in tiny bubbles on plants. And she sees this magic, and is amazed, and searches for more. But what's the harm in believing in Peter Pan dreams and looking for a little magic of the imaginative type as well?
My son sees more magic in this world than most people do. He's the one who will hold a leaf up towards the sun and look at it to see its veins. He stops a million times on our walks to examine a rock, or twig, or bug, or flower that catches his eye. He notices that one orange flower in a field of wildflowers because it stands out to him. And he knows how to use his imagination too, though I sometimes wonder if he's really imagining things, or if they really seem that way to him. A few days ago we were walking across a parking lot, and he said, "Look Mom! X marks the spot where the treasure is!" I looked up to see that two crossed lines left by airplanes had made an X in the sky. He then went on to tell me that the treasure was up there with Jesus. My child is wise beyond his years!
I cannot wait for this summer, to be able to spend more time with my children enjoying the magic that is all around us. We're making plans already...plans that bring to mind times spent with my mom and my grandma on those summer days of my own childhood. My Grandma started an amazing legacy when she taught my mom, and later us, about the magic in the world. I thank God for her influence in my life. And I thank God for my mom, who wasn't afraid to let us imagine and discover and make-believe, and who showed us how it all points to the God who created this magic just for us, His children.