Saturday, March 8, 2014

Fairy Wings (6/13)

One evening as they ate a supper of leaves, blossoms and berries, Flutter looked very tired and weak. The fairy was worried for her friend and asked what was wrong. “I can’t be sure,” the caterpillar replied with a yawn, “but I suddenly want to curl up and take a long nap. Would you mind if we stop here for a while so I can rest?”

“Of course we can, as long as you need,” Lynn said tenderly and watched with some confusion and concern as Flutter slowly climbed onto a low branch nearby and began to spin a blanket around herself until she was completely encased and hanging from the limb.

“Good night, dear fairy,” she sighed from inside, and then was silent. Lynn waited anxiously for a while, and then fell asleep. When she awoke, her friend was still enclosed, and for several days she grew more and more concerned about the uncertainty of what was happening. She waited a long time, and began to wonder if she should move on without the caterpillar, but couldn’t bear to leave her behind in this way. About two weeks passed before the little hanging bed rustled a bit and the fairy heard a moan.

“Flutter! Is that you? Can you hear me? Are you ok?” Lynn said anxiously.

“Yes, I can hear you! And I think I’m ok, but I’m not sure,” the sweet voice was faint and muffled by the blanket. “I’m coming out, but it’s taking some work. Give me time, and I’ll be with you again soon!” The minutes felt like hours to the fairy, but finally the blanket fell away, and out came Flutter, only –

“Flutter, what’s happened to you? You have- you have-“

“Wings!” declared Flutter with proud delight. “Oh Lynn, don’t you see? The King granted my wish! He gave me wings! And they are so big and green, like the leaves – just like I dreamed! Isn’t it marvelous?”

Lynn was shocked and felt a strange twinge of sadness, as though she had somehow been betrayed. “Marvelous,” she repeated, then told herself to rejoice for her dear friend. “Yes, they are truly marvelous! You look beautiful in that shade of green!”

Flutter flicked her new wings and twirled around, trying to admire them herself, then leapt into the air and began to soar up and up- then she looked down at her friend and quickly landed beside her. “Don’t worry,” she said gently as she patted her on the shoulder. “I won’t leave you alone. See? I can walk beside you as I always have, and together we’ll go to see the King. You will fly too!”

The friends continued on for a few days, trying to talk and sing and laugh as they did before. But even as Flutter tried to walk along, she seemed very distracted and restless, with her wings always twitching. Without her realizing it, they would more and more often lift her from the ground and try to carry her off with the breeze. Lynn tried to ignore these things and asked her friend about her time in the blanket.

“I think it’s called a cocoon,” Flutter said, “That’s what the King called it, anyway.”

“The King! He spoke to you?” Lynn was very excited by this.

“Yes, I couldn’t see him, but I could hear him. He told me that he had given me the desire to fly, and would fulfill that desire. He just said I needed to rest and be patient and he would take care of everything. When the time was right, he told me to leave the cocoon and…” Flutter’s voice faded and she looked up at the sky.

“And, what?” asked Lynn, though she knew already the answer.

“He told me to fly,” Flutter said, and looked at the fairy. Tears came to her eyes. “And I want to, but I don’t want to leave you-“

“Then you must fly,” Lynn said, putting on a brave smile. “He gave you wings, and fulfilled your dream, so now you should do what he said and live this new life.”

“My dear fairy,” Flutter said, taking her friend’s hands and squeezing them tightly. “I don’t understand why he gave me wings and not you. I don’t know what he has in store for you. But I do know that he is good, and all good desires in our hearts come from him, and he will fulfill it at the perfect time. I love you! Farewell, sweet friend!” And as though finally letting go of gravity and embracing her gift, she was whisked away into the treetops and blended in with the leaves.

Lynn watched her go, with bittersweet tears. She was glad to see her friend so happy, but she was sad to be alone again – not just alone on the forest path, but alone in her longing for what she did not have. She tried to assure herself that she would share in this glorious fate, but she knew deep down that they were not the same. Flutter was a caterpillar who became a butterfly, and she was a fairy who had always had wings that were useless. Flutter hadn’t been handicapped, she just hadn’t grown into her wings yet. But now she had, and now she was gone, living the life the fairy had been dreaming of for so long. She couldn’t help doubting what Flutter had said – what if the Great King didn’t help her? What if her desire to fly was not from him? What if the time never came for her to fly? How could she keep longing for something that would never come true? The thought choked her, despair grew bigger than hope. She buried her face in the newly sprouted leaves of a tree and cried.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Fairy Wings (5/13)

The next morning, Judson packed a little parcel of provisions for the fairy to take on her journey, and finally presented to her a pair of shoes. They were the prettiest shade of lavender she had ever seen, made of a special material that was soft, warm, and thick, yet remarkably light-weight. “These are enchanted slippers,” the wizard explained.

“Oh!” admired Lynn. “Did you make them yourself?”

The wizard smiled but shook his head. “No, the magic in these slippers is far more powerful and pure than I can conjure. They were given to me, but they look as though they were made for you. Put them on, and do not take them off as long as you travel. You will soon see why they are magical.”

The friends shared heartfelt good-byes, and soon Lynn left the hovel to continue her journey, carrying a parcel of food to sustain her.

She walked for hours, and when she became impatient with walking, she skipped, then hopped, then ran, then danced, then walked again. Though the wooded trail was long and rough, the fairy’s feet never grew weary, and were protected from every pebble and crack, so that she did not stumble or fall. “This must be the magic of the shoes!” she thought.

Still, though her path was made easier, she looked anxiously for signs of Spring, for she missed her home of flowers and sunshine. Here and there she glimpsed a spray of grass peeping from the clumps of gray snow, and now and again she heard the song of a joyful bird. These distractions were welcome, and kept her from being downcast.

Her mountain trek lasted many days, and at night she wrapped herself in leaves or the fur of a gentle creature, to shelter her from the frosty air that clung to the darkest hours before dawn.

Days passed, she found the air was less and less harsh, and the sun more and more generous. The mountains smoothed into rolling hills and tiny buds and sprouts brought color to the forest. The snow melted at last, raining down upon her in silvery droplets. One day, while she walked along, Lynn sang her favorite songs remembered from childhood. She thought she was alone, so she sang loud and strong - not always on key, but she compensated for that in her robust energy. But then she heard a giggle nearby that made her stop short and look around.

“Who’s there?” she asked, looking high and low for her companion.

“Oh, it’s just me, and my name’s Flutter,” a sweet voice said, and a caterpillar peeked around a half-eaten leaf. “I didn’t mean to interrupt you, I just loved the words to your song so much they made me laugh. Did you make it up yourself?”

“Oh hello,” Lynn replied, smiling with relief at the kindness of this stranger. “No, my brother wrote it, but it makes me happy too. I thought I was alone, and was actually becoming very lonely. But I’m glad you are here. I’ve traveled for so long and haven’t seen anyone in quite a while…”

“That’s too bad! But where are you traveling from and to?” Flutter asked.

“I am on a quest to find the Great King!” Lynn said proudly. “I’ve come from the Faerie Realm, because I’m a fairy but my wings don’t fly, and I want the King to help me.”

“How wonderful – a quest!” the little caterpillar beamed. “You know, I’ve always wanted to fly… but here I am, stuck crawling around on the ground. I love to eat leaves, and sometimes I imagine that the leaves are actually wings that sprout on my back and carry me high above the trees!” She craned her neck and smiled at the sky, then remembered the fairy standing by and looked a little ashamed. “So I suppose you could say I know how you feel. Maybe- maybe the King would help me to fly too? Do you think that is possible?”

“Of course he could!” Lynn assured her and clapped her hands. “Come with me, and we’ll find the King together. I would love to have your company, and won’t it be fun when we can both fly!”

So the fairy and the caterpillar went along together easily at the same pace. As they did, Lynn taught Flutter her songs, and Flutter told her stories. They laughed and talked and became fast friends. Lynn felt like the journey was much more pleasant and hopeful with a friend who could truly understand her.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Fairy Wings (4/13)

When the fairy finally awoke, she looked around the dimly lit room and saw all sorts of curiosities. Books and clay pots of varying sizes, shapes, and hues were set around the room, looking very simple on the outside, but obviously valuable to the wizard. He still wore his old brown habit, like a monk or a hermit, and now he added a tall pointed hat to the ensemble, and he stood behind a table, mixing ingredients in a glass bottle. The fairy watched in silence for a while, amazed to see the potion fizzle and spit. Steam rose from the tiny bottle that Judson handled with care, and was filled with a milky blue substance. He sprinkled some dust from a tube labeled “Crushed Robin’s Egg Shell,” then brushed in some powder from a pot labeled “Dust of Dragonfly Wing,” then covered and shook it. He held the bottle up to the light and smiled as the blue thickened and brightened. “You’re getting closer!” He encouraged himself, and scrutinized the ingredients before him.

“What are you getting closer to?” the fairy couldn’t help but ask.

Judson glanced up in surprise, suddenly remembering his little guest.  “Oh my dear, I hope I didn’t wake you! I’m just working on a little assignment the Great King gave me. He asked me to create a new color, one that he could use to express pure joy. I think blue is a good base, and I’m combining what I can to make it as beautiful and perfect as possible. What do you think should go into it next?”

The fairy walked around the items on the table, looking thoughtfully at each one. Then her eyes sparkled and she picked up a feather that was even taller than she. “Oh, use this, please! It is the most beautiful color I’ve ever seen!”

“A peacock plume, of course!” Judson agreed, and took the feather from the fairy, twirling it between his fingers. He placed the bottle over a flame and waited for it to boil, then gently stirred the mixture with the feather. Gold and green flecks danced through the liquid and the blue became more and more vibrant. “Good choice, little one,” he said and winked at her. The two of them studied the potion for a while.

“Something is still missing,” the fairy whispered.

“Just what I was thinking,” Judson whispered back. “I don’t know what exactly. I can’t think of anything that could make it more perfect, but this doesn’t inspire joy in me as I thought it would…” He sighed and shook his head. “Let’s set it aside for now and have some tea, shall we? I always find a good cup of tea helps to bring clarity.”

 The rest of that day was spent sharing stories between the new friends, laughing and singing and eating toast with marmalade and lemon tarts. It wasn’t until the sun set and the room was lit with candles that the wizard dared to ask the question he’d been pondering since Lynn came to his door.

“Little one, I wonder why it is that the rabbit carried you, and you walked through the snow to my home. Last night you mentioned the Great King, but I don’t understand why a creature of your extraordinary abilities does not simply fly o’er the mountains to reach your destination?”

“Oh, so I am going the right direction! I had feared I would be lost forever. Tell me, is the King very near? How much farther do I have to go?”

“Why, not far at all if you simply spread your wings, but I warn you it is much slower if you mean to go on foot.”

“That is why I must see him,” she said in a sad, soft voice. “My wings do not work like other fairies’ wings... and I, I want so badly to, to-” her lip quivered, her pain and sadness welled up in her throat and two shining teardrops rolled down her cheeks and filled her empty thimble tea cup.

She waited for the wizard to ask more questions, but all he said was, “I see.” He was solemnly watching the teacup with the tears inside, praying to know some way to comfort the fairy. Then his eyes blinked and inspiration sparked. “Little one, may I borrow your tea cup? I’d like to try something.” She sniffled and handed him the tiny cup. Tenderly, he carried it to his work table and transferred the tears into the blue bottle, and instantly the mixture swirled into dark clouds like a storm.

“Oh, no! It’s ruined!” cried the fairy.

But Judson held up a finger, then reached for a crystal vial on a shelf and spilled it in as well. “Give it time,” he whispered. “Wait a little longer, and see what happens.” While they waited, Judson said gently, “Sometimes we think that things are ugly or broken or useless; but really they have been made the way they are for a very special purpose, to experience something much greater.”

Lynn saw that the potion was swirling again, and a bright blue sparkle was breaking through the darkness. “What was that last ingredient you put in?” she asked.

“The Great King gave it to me... it is one ounce of his love. He told me to add it to this recipe after I discovered the secret ingredient. And with your help, I found it. The secret ingredient to pure joy is suffering – we cannot truly experience joy to its fullest until we have faced suffering… and allowed His powerful love to overcome it.” The sparkle continued to grow and spread through. The clouds did not vanish all together, but they faded in the brilliance of the ounce of love, and the contrast and play of light and shadow formed the most enchanting, beautiful hue the fairy had ever seen. The wizard smiled and set the bottle down beside the fairy. “There now, see how well His love shows up in the midst of your tears? Truly amazing; He will be most pleased with the results.”

With the mixture complete, Judson relaxed and he and Lynn talked late into the night. He told her his story, and about his friend, the Great King, and some of the journeys and assignments He had given him over the years. He laughed as he recalled some of the curious instructions and ingredients he had been entrusted with, and how he had discovered the incredible purposes behind each one. “The Great King never makes a mistake,” he mused. “He always knows exactly what he is doing, and always carries it on to completion. And I get to see it happen over and over again.”

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Fairy Wings (3/13)

How foolish I am! she scolded herself, and just as she was about to turn back and give up her dream, she noticed a rabbit coming towards her.

“What are you doing out here all by yourself?” it asked in a sympathetic, motherly tone. Lynn was shivering and crying and couldn’t form a response, and the rabbit took pity on her. “There, there, you are too cold and tired to stay here.  Climb on my back, and I will take you to a nice place where you can rest.” Too overcome to ask questions, the fairy did as she was told, and laid down in the sweet, soft fur of the rabbit’s back. They traveled toward the mountains of the North, and as they did the hills rose higher and higher around them. The rhythm of the rabbit’s movement and the beat of its heart lulled Lynn to sleep. The stars high above sang their lullaby: one that only fairies can hear, silvery and clear and full of good things that settle into drowsy eyes and create sweet dreams.

Lynn awoke when a wet nose nudged her cheek. Rubbing her eyes, she saw that she had been carried to the door of a hovel in the cleft of a mountain. There was a warm glow from inside which poured out on the old snow that still clung to the ground. The fairy’s feet left tiny dents in the snow as she stepped to the doorway. Wet and cold, she shivered and knocked. Her lifeless wings hung heavy behind her, now shriveled and gray from lack of the warmth and sunshine they were so used to.

Presently, a man came to the door. He was quite large, at least from the perspective of a tiny fairy. His frame was hidden by a grand, woolen cloak that draped over him, exposing only his head and hands. He was balding, and had a long white beard on his chin that made him look wise and old, but his dark blue eyes were still young and full of life.

At first he did not see his guest; only the rabbit and a few other wild creatures huddled around his home. “Hi there, get away! It’s much too cold for you to be out stargazing tonight. I’ve no food for you, and my generosity does not extend indoor welcomes to the likes of fluffy critters. Off with you now, before I turn you into true wooden creatures!”

He stepped back to shut the door, but then heard a sad little voice: “Please sir, does your generosity extend a welcome to the likes of a fairy like me?”

The man looked around, then down to the bit of shadow in the snow. She did not look much like a fairy at the moment; more like an autumn leaf after it falls to the ground and turns limp and colorless. He lifted the fragile fairy into his palm and carried her inside, where he provided a scrap of warm fleece and hot tea in a dainty china teacup, the size of a thimble, handcrafted in the fairy world. The fairy took the small gift with amazement, wondering how this man had come to possess such a treasure.

“I’m a wizard,” he said softly as he tucked the small coverlet around her. “Judson is my name. Unlike most humans, I have been many wondrous and magical places, including the Faerie Realm. But that is enough about me; who are you, and how is it that you are here, so far from your home?”

“My name is Lynn, and well, it’s my wings… I need to find the Great King…” but her eyes were heavy and her body longed for rest, so she passed into sleep once more, wrapped in the comfort of the wizard’s home.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Fairy Wings (2/13)

Lynn sat solemn and still, with her wings folded and cold upon her back. She could not change moods so easily, for it was her own tale that had been told and she still lived without hope of a happy ending, longing for the strength, grace and acceptance that she did not possess. She closed her eyes and resolved to leave all sad and lonely things behind. Instead, she tried to focus on the words of the happy tune sung above:

“Have you heard of the Great King, the one beyond the sea?
The one whose reign is pure and true, who came to set us free!
‘Tis true, he’s brave and very fierce, he’s fought great wars and won;
‘Tis also true he’s kind and good, and loves us like a son.
He gives us wings so we may fly, and makes it always Spring,
And grants us life so we may live – that’s why we dance and sing.
He heals the lame, touches the weak, gives strength to those who fall.
So wonderful, so magical – the greatest King of all…”

Lynn pondered the words, sung with such joy and confidence. “Is He truly like that?” she whispered to the flowers, and they bobbed their faces in assurance. She’d heard of the Great King all her life, but had never considered his power in such a way. “If I could just see him, then maybe - maybe…” her tiny voice trembled and she scarcely dared to breathe the words, but her heart pounded with hidden excitement at what she suddenly resolved to do. That very evening, she would quietly slip away while everyone was going to sleep, and she would not look back. She would find the Great King, and she would fly home on newly restored wings – what a lovely surprise that would be! She giggled with the daffodils that seemed to agree with her plan. “So wonderful, so magical – the greatest King of all!”

The thrill of anticipated adventure tingled through Lynn all afternoon, and as the sun set and all the fairies bid each other good-night, she edged closer and closer to the Spring of Herbal Restoration – a bubbling fountain that gave life to the Faerie Realm and marked the border of their land. She dipped her hand in the water and took a sip, her heart said good-night and farewell to her beloved home, and she crossed the stream.

It was an abrupt transition; the earth outside of the Faerie Realm is much harsher, for it was winter still, though nearing its end. She tripped and bruised her knee, and her soft and delicate toes were cut on the sharp dead blades of brown grass. The trees were bare, though she could sense their desire to burst into bloom soon. Everything looked tired of being dead, and this misery weighed heavily on her. She realized then that she had not prepared herself at all, had not thought about how long it would take, or how she would survive, or how she would even find the Great King in the vast expanse of his great kingdom. Darkness quickly fell around her, and she knew she would never make it alone.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Fairy Wings (1/13)

A story that continues to be in progress, 
as the Lord is not finished with his work in my life yet. 
I dedicate this to the Author of my faith, 
who is a much better writer than I will ever be…
With love from Connie

“Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. 
Not many of you were wise by human standards; 
not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; 
God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 
He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—
and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are,
 so that no one may boast before him.”
~1 Corinthians 1:26-29

Once upon a time, there was a Great King, who lived in a Great Castle, and who ruled over a Great Kingdom and all the Realms Beyond. Most of the realms beyond the kingdom were considered wild, mysterious, and dangerous, strangely charmed and populated by the most unusual creatures. But one of the realms – the Faerie Realm - has become so famous that even you have probably heard of it. And even if you don’t really believe in such things, you have certainly enjoyed its magic, for it is where Spring is born.

You may recall breathing the perfume of its miraculous flowers at the end of winter, when the air is still chilly and the grass is still crispy brown; when the frost still lingers… when you feel Spring coming. It caresses your skin and tickles your nose and kisses your cheeks and you know that it is near, and a new surge of hope warms you to your fingertips and brings a smile to your face. That feeling is a gift from the fairies, who celebrate the Spring in colorful breezes and wild, beautiful dances. It is the flutter of their wings and the swirl of their gowns which you sense, the crystal sound of their laughter that you wonder if you actually hear. They ceaselessly rejoice in the Spring, for their enchanted world is forever bursting with fresh and glorious life.

What a joyful place it is! Oh, to fly effortlessly above fields of brilliant poppies, tulips, and daisies which tumble over each other, vying for the attention of the generous sun. And oh, to dip among them, drinking in their fragrance - sweeter than any flower of any other realm, for they are nourished by fairy dust and melodious laughter. To join the winged creatures as they play and flirt in the trees – great, magnificent trees which shed downy cherry blossoms with every quiver of their boughs. To experience the thrill-

“Hey, lady! Why aren’t you flying like everyone else?” An uninhibited sprite crashed through the poetic thoughts and private dreams of a single fairy named Lynn, who was nestled in a bed of daffodils. The fairy squinted up at the chubby creature bouncing and flapping obnoxiously just above her head. She couldn’t tell if she felt more awkward from the gushing inquisitiveness of the child or from the obvious embarrassment of the nanny as she tried to silence the child and escape the situation all together. Either way, the question was asked, and it deserved an answer.

“I can’t fly like you do,” Lynn recited patiently but vaguely, “because my wings do not work like yours do.”

Before the interview continued, the nanny took the sprite by the hand and led her into the trees, where more questions poured forth, growing fainter as the party rose higher: “Nanny, why can’t that lady fly? What happened to her wings? What is wrong with her?”

Lynn lay back again, intending to resume her daydream. But the sound of the voices trickled down and she couldn’t help but overhear the familiar story as it was told once more:

“Once upon a time, there was a fairy couple who had a baby girl. All the fairies in the land rejoiced, she was lovely and sweet, and fairies from near and far admired her seeming perfection; but as she grew, it was discovered that her wings did not work like other fairies’ wings. They were small and weak, and became tired easily from the feeble attempts at flight. Alas, though she was a fairy by nature and heritage, there was no magic to be found.

“All the other fairies loved her very much, and it saddened them to consider her loss. They came one by one to offer their gifts of healing. One fairy brought charms and danced around the babe, but the charms brought no strength to the small muscles. A second fairy brought a book of spells and chanted magic words, but the spells did not revive the lifeless wings. A third fairy brought potions of all sorts, and measured them out for the child to drink, but the potions also had no effect. Magicians, elves, and wizards were called upon, yet none of their powers seemed to help. So the young fairy grew up among the flowers, always feeling the damp earth and mossy grass beneath her feet and never knowing the thrill of the breeze lifting her high above.

“No one knows the mystery of her handicap, but there are many speculations. Some wonder if there was a tragic accident, or if she was neglected as a child and didn’t receive the proper flight training. Some even believe there was a curse upon her because of some unspeakable evil… And some question why she even had wings if they were not meant to be used.

“But there now, this story is far too sad to entertain a child like you. Come, dear, let us sing a song to lift our spirits, shall we?”