The Night We Lit Up the World

I recently read a book called Permission to Speak Freely, which may explain some of the recent posts/conversations/letters I’ve been writing. There was a lot of the book that I disagreed with. A lot of things didn’t resonate with me or sit well in my stomach at all. But I loved the principal of it. I loved the idea that we all need to be a little bit more vulnerable. We all need permission to speak freely.

But one of the quotes that really struck me wasn’t about speaking freely at all. Toward the end of the book, the author quotes a friend saying, “As we grow up, we learn a great deal about the mysteries that perplexed us when we were small. We learn that the sun doesn’t go to bed after all. Our earth just turns away from her for a bit. The stars that look like diamonds sparkling in the sky are really nasty balls of flaming gas. And bit by bit, we surrender the magic that was our constant companion.”

I stared at those words. Blinked a few times. And then I dared to ask why. What’s wrong with believing in sleepy suns and skies filled with diamonds? What’s wrong with holding onto magic?

And I know I talk all the time about embracing magic and wonder and living that childlike faith that Jesus told His disciples they must have. It’s because I believe in it. I believe in letting yourself be awed by things that others may try to reason away.

Last week I spent an evening with two, beautiful preschoolers who introduced me to the magic of glow sand. We walked outside with our containers of blue and green and yellow and orange, sprinkling it across the ground until you would have believed that fairies had been dancing there.

The world was filled with wonder. The yard was aglow with pixie dust. I had it on my hands and in my hair and even between my toes. We laughed and we danced and we felt we could fly. It was magical. Absolutely magical.

But when you think about it, it was just sand. Gritty, dirty sand that would, in four hours, lose its sparkle. Like Cinderella’s carriage turning back into a pumpkin, the magic would be gone. And I would be in desperate need of a shower.

Most people might have considered that before they threw it in their hair. Most people might have been content to let the sand spill out on the ground, lighting up the night for a moment only to be forever lost to the world when morning came around. And you can probably bet that most people would not have sprinkled it over a friend’s shoulders while shouting, “Think happy thoughts!”

Because most people aren’t such big fans of Peter Pan and Neverland and all that “second star to the right and straight on ’til morning” nonsense. Most people, as it was quoted in Permission to Speak Freely, have bit by bit surrendered the magic that was our constant companion.

But I, for one, am not content to be one of those people.

I, for one, will continue to believe in suns that fall asleep and diamonds that sparkle in the night sky.

I, for one, will continue to light up the world with magic that glows only for a moment and wonder that dances forever in our hearts.

Because God never intended for us to lose our amazement. He never wanted us to walk through life scientifically explaining away the miracles He created.

No, I think He wanted us to live a little more like the children who kiss the sun goodnight and marvel at the endless amount of diamonds in the sky. I think He wanted us to hold onto wonder and light up the world with our belief that the world is magical after all.

Light Bulbs, Airplanes, and Impossible Dreams

“Fear wants to stop our stories,” Anne Jackson writes. And I think I’m going to have to read the chapter over again because all I saw was that simple sentence. So at the risk of writing something that might already be written let me tell you why that sentence stopped me in my tracks.

I think most of us are more aware of our dreams than we care to admit. When someone asks you what you want to do when you grow up and you reply, “I don’t know,” I’m inclined to wonder whether you honestly don’t know or whether you’re afraid of what you do know. Because Fear has a way of killing our dreams.

The thing about dreams is that they’re larger than life. Impossible, even. And maybe in your heart you know what you would really love to do if there were no possible way you could fail. So what do you want to do with your life?

And you’re still saying that you don’t know because the big question I just posed was “if.” I said “if” there was no possible way you could fail, but that’s just the thing. There are countless ways you could fail, says Fear. And if you fail, people are going to laugh. If you fail, you will have wasted your life. If you fail, you’ll have nothing to show for yourself but a pile of shattered dreams.

But listen closely before you close the door on your dreams, because Fear says the same thing I did. “If,” Fear whispers. “If.” And maybe all those things Fear says are true. People may laugh and your dreams may shatter if you fail. But there’s no guarantee that you will fail. And what’s the harder life to live – the life of someone who dared to pursue their dreams regardless of what the critics said or the life of someone who died having never attempted to do that one thing that beat in their heart?

One day your heart will stop beating and your dream will die with it. Unless… Unless you dared to give it life before you encountered death. Because some dreams outlive the dreamer. In fact, I would imagine that most dreams do.

Don’t believe me? Hit the nearest light switch and see what happens. What happens is all because Thomas Edison dared to dream that there was a better source of light than candles. And he burned a few candles in the process of making that dream a reality. A new friend of mine is boarding a plane back to Barcelona tonight, but I never would have even met her if the Wright brothers hadn’t quit their day job and decided to invent a flying machine.

Light bulbs and airplanes… Impossible dreams. You can bet that there were critics. You can bet that Fear screamed that it couldn’t be done. And history shows there were failures. The dream didn’t fall together in a day. There were setbacks and frustrations and things that didn’t work.

And you can bet that these dreamers got discouraged. But they didn’t let their temporary failures destroy their dreams. Because they knew in their hearts that lights were made for shining and men were made for flying and that, one day, in the not-so-distant future their dreams wouldn’t seem so impossible after all.