“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you.
Because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.
Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”
–Roald Dahl, “The Minpins”
Last week a brilliant little nine-year-old boy said he had two questions to ask me and that I had to totally honest with my answers. I agreed to be truthful and was rather curious about what the questions might be. The first question he asked was, did I enjoy my part-time job working with him and the other three children? Before the second question, he firmly reminded me that I had agreed to complete honesty. And no grey area: a yes or no answer. He really had my curiosity piqued, but I was also a tad nervous about what was coming.
“Is there a Santa Claus?”
The big Kahuna question for a nine-year-old heading into the unfortunate landscape of adult logic.
I thought for a moment. Then I said, “As far as I’m concerned, I believe in Santa Claus.”
“Come on! Really? Why?”
“Well, I’ve seen too many wild and wonderful things happen. I’ve received gifts I would never have dreamed I’d get. I’ve seen evidence of magical things. But, I will say that I am not a normal adult. I totally believe in magic, and a lot of adults don’t.”
“Well, that’s better than my mom. At least you gave me a clear answer.”
Do you believe in magic? In the energy of “Santa Claus?”
I think that if I did not believe in the possibility of angels, magic, miracles and of a benevolent God-like divine force, I would not be here. It’s what keeps me going. I haven’t exactly had a “successful” life by First World standards in the past decade. And in all honestly, I am struggling. A lot.
Although I have a patently logical side, I feel that I am connected to something else when happenstances, small signs, and distinct messages come to me. Things that keep me believing that there remains more left for me yet. Intermingled with the crap, many weird and delightful things have happened to me over the course of my life.
When I was twenty-two, my best friend and I booked a last minute flight to San Francisco for a 4-day weekend. Thinking ourselves adventurous, we didn’t reserve a room. We hadn’t banked on a long flight delay and we landed close to midnight. As we waited for our bags at the carousel, a mild panic washed over us. There we were, two blonde twits with no place to stay in a large American city at midnight.
On the flight we’d briefly chatted with Nikolas, a Greek guy around our age. He noticed our dazed look and guessed at our dilemma. He made us a generous offer to stay with him and his father for the night if we wanted to. He was taking a taxi home to San Bruno and we were welcome to come along. We had a short pow-wow and decided we’d take a look at the place and if it seemed too seedy or suspicious, we’d decline and take the taxi downtown.
Nikolas called his dad for a head’s up and off we went into a San Francisco night. The cab stopped at a beautiful home on a hill (with a spectacular view that we discovered the next day). We silently nodded an okay to each other. The door opened and Nikolas’ father, a man with a smile that could melt ice, greeted us as though we were long lost rellies from Greece. Drinks were made and snacks set out. His father was thrilled for the company. Nikolas took us to a lovely guest bedroom with a massive bed covered in a thick duvet and a pile of luscious pillows.
In the morning we heard a light knock on the door. Nikolas entered with a tray lovingly prepared with orange juice, croissants, and assorted cheeses set on good china and a newspaper tucked under his arm. He sat on the edge of the bed and said his father had invited us to stay for the duration of our trip if we wished. They’d been quite lonely and grief-stricken since Nikolas’ mother had died and they were happy to have female energy around. They would take us on a tour of the sights. We had an incredible visit with these two wonderful Greek-American men that made me believe in serendipity and the magic of the Universe. And the goodness of the world.
Later on I would pay it forward by showing similar hospitality to two visitors from Philadelphia up for the Calgary Stampede who wondered at their good luck.
Or, there was the time I flew back from a dream trip in bella Italia, my first wholly solo sojourn. On the flight home via Air Italia I was invited to sit in the cockpit to chat with the pilots while drinking Campari and soda and being catered to the entire flight by a bevy of hunky Italian stewards. With the bulletproof, bolted cabins and the insanity of flying regulations now, that is a magical memory I cherish deeply.
And then there was the day I sat at a red light in the midst of my second cancer journey. With no benefits I was obsessively worrying over my bills. A question bleated loudly in my mind: can you trust it will work out? I relaxed and acquiesced. I will trust, I told myself.
Ten minutes later my friend Shari called to ask me if I was feeling lucky.
“Not particularly,” I said.
“Well you should be because you just won the 50/50 for the studio fundraiser!”
“Seriously? No way!”
“Way! $4400! Cash.”
The wild part of this story is that I’d bought only two tickets and on one I’d scrawled the word “magic” lightly on the back. When the girls who’d done the draw pulled it, one said, “Hey! This says magic on it! Should we put it back?”
“Of course not,” said the other, “she won fair and square.”
Talk about believing!
But there was a markedly poignant moment in Mexico on the beach that I shall never, ever forget. My husband had just left after an ultimatum that had to be made and my friends and I had booked the trip to help ease my incredible heartbreak. Prior to the flight, my back went into spasm so badly I couldn’t walk without assistance. The pain was excruciating. My chiropractor made a house call and gently informed me I was having hysterical paralysis caused by the shock of the break-up. He said it was genuine physical paralysis which was like a vice grip on my spinal cord and that I should try my best to relax.
We kept our plans to go, but I was not an easy travel mate. The girls had to carry me everywhere and I whimpered in my sleep from the pain all night long. One morning the two wanted to go for a long walk along the beach. They dragged my butt down to the beach and set me under an umbrella. After they left I sat with tears streaming down my face. I was in inconceivable physical pain, but worse, I was emotionally devastated. The poor waiter didn’t know what to think and asked if there was anything at all he could do for me.
Left alone staring out at the ocean I made a simple, gut wrenching statement aloud.
God must not live in Mexico. If he did, I could not possibly be in this much pain.
The next moment, everything went still. I heard no birds and it seemed like the waves stopped. I heard no people–only silence. Then I heard one tiny sentence:
Yes, he does.
The sounds of life returned and the waves lapped the shore. I sat dumbfounded. Did I really hear that? Was I going crazy from my angst and pain?
The next morning I awoke completely pain free. I stood up and walked as though nothing was ever wrong. I couldn’t believe it. The girls were stunned. The guests at the pool who’d seen me in a back brace being carried about appeared mystified as I strolled by. I knew I’d experienced something akin to a miracle.
Nobody can deny that the world is whirling dervish of madness; we have rampant terrorism; a cancer epidemic; a surreal celebrity obsession; ridiculously soaring food prices with the likes of Monsanto ruining the world’s food supply; and we are being lulled into a spy-cam state. All the while far too many people act like zombies who don’t notice.
That is why we so much need to believe. In the midst of struggle, magic exists. The other day I found a small oval pendant with an angel etched on it right next to a dime in a dark parking lot directly after I was speaking to a friend about a guardian angel. I could use a lot more than a dime right now, but I was elated. When I flipped the angel coin over under a streetlight it read “Always with you.” I choose to give the discovery meaning.
What if a stranger compliments you on a day when you are feeling exceptionally worn out?
What if you spot a rare animal, like a skunk, casually waddling down an inner city street? (Animal totems have messages and can be found online)
What if you hear an old song three times in a row that has meaning for you?
If we watch for an inexplicable connection between things, if we assign significance to small synchronicities and happenstances, and if we pay attention to signs, difficulty is made more bearable.
The more you pay attention, the more you see. The more you see, the more you will believe in the magic that is weaved into the mundane grind of life. If you have fallen asleep, wake up. Now is the time of year for child-like awe. You never know what bizarre and mysterious wonders await you if you look for them.
May your days be merry and bright, and may all your Christmases be blanketed with the sparkle of the mystical, the magical, and the miraculous!
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