Saturday, March 15, 2014

Fairy Wings (13/13)

The sun was setting as the fairy left the town. So much had happened in one day, and she was beginning to worry that she would wake up and find it was all a dream. How could life possibly continue on after this? Could tomorrow hold a fraction of the wonder and joy of today? She was so deep in thought that she was almost trampled in the fading light by a clumsy, oversized foot.

“OH MY!” shouted a surprised giant. “I am so sorry, tiny creature! I am afraid my feet are too eager and my eyes are too weak.” The voice of an elderly woman rumbled high above, and all Lynn could see were two huge stalks with feet, and a shadowy mountain. But then the woman stooped low, and Lynn came face-to-face with a large round head frosted with fluffy white hair, and big brown cow-like eyes which looked kindly at her behind spectacles the size of window panes. “I am following the magical path to the Great King,” she said in a whisper that nearly blew the fairy away. “Have you met him? Is he as good as I have heard? Does he… help people?”

“Oh, yes!” Lynn said, and she enthusiastically shared with the giant the beauty and glory of His Majesty.

The giant sighed whimsically. “I’ve wanted to meet him for so long, and I think I might be getting close.”

Lynn encouraged her, “You are quite close now! Do you know in which direction to go? Those woods can be confusing.”

“Of course I know where to go!” the giant cried, and in her excitement the ground shook. “I didn’t know for a long time, and I could not have found it alone, but as I said before, I am carefully following the magical path-”

“Magical path? What is this path?” The fairy questioned the giant’s meaning, for besides the tug in her heart, she’d had no guide, compass or path to lead her.

“Why, that path!” she pointed with a large stubby finger. “It’s the one that I found a few days ago, and it was so pretty and intriguing, I had to follow it!”

The fairy peered around the giant and found, on the dark grass beyond, a path made of twinkling lavender spots, just the size of a fairy’s footprints.

“The path is tiny, but bright and constant enough to guide anyone – even a great old ogre like me!” The woman laughed heartily and stood up again. “I must be off, tiny creature. There is not a moment to lose! Good-bye, and thank you for telling me the truth!”

The fairy barely heard the traveler leave, because she was staring at the lavender spots, then at the lavender shoes on her feet, then behind her, at the giant, lumbering down the long, glistening trail. “How remarkable!” she thought. Then, as she turned around again, she saw in the distance the silhouette of others coming down from the forest. Rabbits and squirrels, knights and ladies, giants and dwarfs - creatures of all sizes and shapes, lands and languages, abilities and disabilities - were walking the same marked path.

Could it be true? It seemed that the slippers of Mercy had paved the way for others to find the Great King. Was this the role she was meant to play? But this was more than a drama, a play, a story; this was real – amazing, baffling, and thrilling. How extraordinary were the plans and dreams of the King: that such a small creature, with such a small dream, was called to be part of something so much bigger, so much Greater, than tiny fairy wings.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Fairy Wings (12/13)

Then the King told Lynn of wonderful things… of mansions in his kingdom made of crystal and pearl; of the many adventures of his son, the Great Prince; of marvelous creatures of the Old Worlds, and the New Worlds, and the Worlds to Come; of the vastness of His kingdom which reached beyond the northern hills and across the eastern sea; of the wonders that surpassed even the Faerie Realm and the Elvin Country, and magic that exceeded all wizards and sorcerers.

As he spoke, Lynn wondered more and more why she had ever desired something so small as fairy wings. She thought that maybe if she’d been able to fly, she would never have come on this journey, never met the good wizard Judson or Flutter or Rusty, never met this Great King, and never known there was anything more than the tall flowers and fairy songs. How amazing were the thoughts of the King! The more she learned, the more she wondered at the love which the King lavished on her. Why should he care for one as small and insignificant as she? What role of any consequence could she play in such a divine drama?

With a voice that assured her that he knew her thoughts, the King said, “The enchanted slippers you wear are called Teremai, which means Mercy, in the Elvin tongue. You see, I have not left you vulnerable and alone; I have given you this gift of mercy, to carry with you through all life’s journeys. It will help you to not grow weary, it will keep your feet from stumbling, and it will never wear out or grow old, for my mercy is new every morning. Together with the visions I have just shown you, they will guide you and guard you, and give you strength, courage, hope, and joy in all things. Remember my plans, my promises, and my love will never fail you. Go, my beloved, and discover how much I delight in the small and weak things, for through them I can do great things.”

As the fairy left the magnificent castle, she saw Rusty, leaning against the castle gate and playing his songs. He nodded and smiled to her, and she recalled what he had said before. She began to understand that the Great King gives gifts that are far above what she could ever ask or think. She knew the road home would be long, and she wondered if she would even return home, or if the slippers of mercy would lead her down other paths.

“So Elensila,” Rusty asked, “did He heal you?”

“More than I could have ever imagined.”

He smiled and said, “I knew he would. Farewell, until we meet again.”  

Lynn retraced her steps down the garden path, stopping to splash in the stream and rest among the flowers and swing on the willow boughs. Her wings did not weigh her down anymore; in fact, she hardly considered them at all, and then only as a reminder of her fantastic journey and the wonderful climax – her time with the King was not the end, as she always thought it would be, but only a turning point in the fairy’s tale.

She reached the village, today alive with activity, but not frightening and crowded as it was before. This time, she strolled lazily along, looking at all the goods to be sold. As intriguing as they seemed, Lynn thought that they were meant to try to fulfill some desperate emptiness that only the King could fill.

As she pondered, she heard a familiar tune played on a mandolin, and a voice sang the words that had first sparked her dream. “Have you heard of the Great King, the One beyond the Sea?…” A traveling musician appeared from between the market stalls, and nodded to the fairy, then continued his song and fixed his eyes on the castle that now stood in the distance behind her, where she could hear an angelic harmony to the song playing on the finer instrument of Rusty. How much she loved him, and yet now she realized how little she knew about him. Why had he lived among the elves? How had he met the King? Perhaps someday they would meet again, as he said, and she would hear his story.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Fairy Wings (11/13)

Through those two great doors the King sat on his throne. Lynn trembled at the thought of it. She knew that many people had stood there before, but at this moment she felt like the first and only to do what she was about to do. Rusty spoke softly to her, “Here is where you and I must part ways. Trust me when I say that He loves you and will give you more than you could ever imagine. Never forget that.” And with that, the young man gently set her on the ground, turned, and hobbled back to the courtyard.

The throne room was huge and beautiful, with a thick, crimson carpet running from the doorway to the foot of the throne.  Tall and elegant lamp-stands illuminated the aisle, alive with light that glanced off every polished and glittering ornament in the room. And there, upon the throne, was the Great King, royal and radiant. Lynn could not move for a minute, so overwhelming was the sight. She was seized with fear and desire all at once, knowing her weakness and shame made her unworthy to even see such majesty.

“Come, enter in, my child, and tell me what you desire,” the King invited, with all gentleness and strength. The sound of his voice did not surprise her; it seemed somehow familiar to her heart. It was the Voice - the Spirit - that had called her all along the way, guiding her steps and leading her unto himself. Such love was too amazing for her to understand, and it compelled her to draw nearer.

As Lynn took one step, the enchanted slippers carried her quickly forward, in a lovely little dance all of their own. The candlelight sparkled on the shoes, and such joy filled the fairy that she felt as though she had already been blessed. She knelt at the throne and said, “Your Majesty, I’ve come to humbly ask you… to grant me wings that will fly.”

Strangely, the request sounded shallow to Lynn when she spoke it, and didn’t seem as crucial as it did when she first left the Faerie Realm. She wondered if she really needed the wings as desperately as she always thought she did. As she waited for the highly anticipated response, she found herself wondering if the King could give her something even better.

The King, with a kind look in his eyes simply replied, “What charming slippers you are wearing. Where did you get them?”

The slippers? Lynn was puzzled and flustered. Why did the King care about the slippers? She said, “A friend gave them to me as a gift. He is the good wizard in the northern mountains.”

“Ah, Judson is a good man and very wise. I am glad he knew to whom the gift should be passed on at the perfect time.”

“Do you mean that you were the one who gave them to him first?” Lynn said, still perplexed.

“Yes, they were made for you from the beginning. Now tell me, what have you heard, and what do you believe about me?”

Lynn thought for a long moment, considering all the things she heard throughout her journey:

“’Tis also true He’s kind and good…” 

“We cannot truly experience joy to its fullest until we have faced suffering… and allowed His powerful love to overcome it…” 

“He always knows exactly what he is doing, and always carries it on to completion…” 

“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...”

“He knows what your greatest need is, much more than you do; he gives the best remedy, which may be something you don’t expect; and he does what will bring you true joy and him the most glory.”

“So wonderful, so magical – the greatest King of all!” 

Reminded of these things, she responded, “I believe you are good, that you love me, and that I can trust you. I believe your plans are better than mine, and you do all things well. That is what I had heard, and somewhere along my journey, I learned to believe it.”

“What you believe is true. Will you live in this truth, even when you do not understand?” As he spoke, the King stepped down from his throne, lifted the fairy in his palm, and held her close to his heart. “Beloved, I have given you wings, and they are full of more life than you will ever know. But I created you for a purpose much greater than wings can accomplish. Flying is a gift that can be enjoyed only by the one with wings and others who can fly like them; you were made to share your wings with many different kinds of people and creatures. You want to fly because it is the greatest thing your mind can imagine. But what if I showed you even greater dreams – what if you saw what my mind can imagine? Then, I think, you would not be so concerned with merely flying.”

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Fairy Wings (10/13)

“Good morn, Elensila,” Rusty said, and the fairy blinked awake. “We may begin the last day of your journey. Here, climb upon my shoulder and I will carry you for a while.”

As promised, he woke her at the first light of dawn, and excitement and anticipation tingled through Lynn as she scampered upon the boy’s shoulder and held on to his old coat. “What was the name that you just called me?”

“It is an Elvish name, which I learned when I lived among the elves… it means ‘the star that shines.’”
Lynn was pleased with the name, and wanted to ask more about the elves, but then she was surprised. As the young man rose from his place on the ground, he picked up a staff and gripped it with both hands for support. They began to slowly hobble along the path, and with unspoken struggle, he worked his way up the hill. For a while the fairy said nothing; his disability was obvious and she was terribly confused by it. Yet the longer she was silent, the more disturbed she was, so finally she approached the subject.

“Forgive me, but what happened to your legs?” She blushed at her own question, because it was so reminiscent of the ones she had been asked all her life. However, Rusty seemed not bothered by it at all.

“Oh, that,” he shrugged. “I’ve always been lame, ever since I was born. Now that it’s brought up, I might ask about your wings.”

“Why, I have the same answer as you! But tell me, didn’t the King heal you? You said he did, didn’t you?”

Rusty paused a moment and gave her a curious look. “Of course he healed me. He always does. I was miserable and lost without a song in my heart, and he gave me the most beautiful of songs, and the ability to play it for others to hear. I could not have asked for a more valuable gift, and he was more than generous to me. Why do you say he did not heal me? Didn’t you hear the music for yourself last night?”

“I did – I mean, I didn’t realize – but you see…” the poor fairy was so troubled that she had no words to say. There was silence for a few moments, and Rusty became quite solemn, sitting down on the path and setting Lynn down beside him.

Then he said, “I see the questions and doubts in your eyes – I had the same thoughts at one time – but do not fear. He knows what your greatest need is, much more than you do; he gives the best remedy, which may be something you don’t expect; and he does what will bring you true joy and him the most glory. He will not leave you or fail you. So trust him.” With that simple statement and a kind smile, he lifted Lynn back to his shoulder, picked up his crutch again and continued up the hill. Strangely, his steps - which felt coarse and jerky before - now seemed to have rhythm and grace beyond any other person’s stride, like a magical dance.

Step by step, slowly and yet with great confidence, the two drew nearer to the grand castle. The garden along the path was beautiful and abundant: purple and red blossoms that reminded the fairy of her home adorned the path of fine white sand; sprays of green danced and waved welcoming hands to all who passed by; willows bowed low to the ground and touched the water’s edge in homage, and tall manicured cedars stood at attention like giant sentinels at the King’s command. As they passed by the water, Lynn saw lily pads and blooms languidly resting on the gentle current of the silvery stream which chuckled at its good fortune to be so near His Majesty. It boasted not in its own beauty but only in its position, by reflecting back and showing off the colors of the beloved garden and the mighty walls of the castle ahead.

By late afternoon they reached the entrance to the castle, graced with untamed ivy that twisted and climbed up the ancient stones and framed the gate which stood wide open, exposing the majesty and royalty of the King’s home. Inside, the syncopated beat of Rusty’s gait tapped on the marble floor and echoed around the high vaulted ceiling. Tall and narrow stained glass windows gave character to the sun’s rays that shone through and highlighted the treasures of the King: giant portraits of his only beloved son, as well as smaller portraits of men and beasts and other creatures who were close to the heart of the King. There was not much in the way of furniture, but Lynn could imagine great banquets and parties filling the room on occasion. Candelabras of glistening gold now stood waiting for evening use, and fine silks framed the windows, adding beauty and creative expression to the massive stone hall. To the right and left were staircases, detailed with ivory and pearl and carpeted with red velvet, and they rose and curved out of sight into the private chambers of the royal family. Straight ahead was a pair of wooden doors that were intricately carved with the script of ancient wisdom, and guarded by a man who wore a sword and stood solid and unwavering. The two travelers did not linger nor wandered about the open court, but approached the guard who asked their business.

“If you please, we must see the King,” Rusty said, panting a bit from his trek.

Lynn held her breath, unsure how the guard would respond. But immediately, he smiled, pushed open the heavy door and said, “You may enter. His Majesty has been expecting you.”

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Fairy Wings (9/13)

“It’s pretty, eh?” a voice broke through the magical silence and made Lynn jump. She spun in a circle, squinting in the darkness to find her companion. Sitting outside a little shoe shop nearby was a young man, gangly and a bit dirty, who wore clothes that were mismatched and too big for him. He raised a hand in a wave, and she saw that his long, skinny fingers extended past the worn ends of his blue gloves. Though she knew nothing about him, she liked him instantly.

“How did you see me?” Lynn asked. “No one has noticed me all day.”

“Well, I’m used to looking for little things – mostly shiny things like shillings that drop from heavy pockets. Besides, no one really sees anyone in those busy market streets. Out here, away from the bustle, it’s much easier to breathe and think and move… and gaze upon the Great Castle, which I’d venture to guess is what you were doing.” He glanced down at her and flashed a lop-sided smile. Rusty-colored ringlets bounced around his freckled face, and his endearing grin caused the corners of his eyes to crinkle and two dimples to crease his cheeks. All the abundance of life overflowed from his countenance and the fairy was irresistibly drawn to him, longing to know the mystery of his joy. Yet for all his boyish charm and his spirit of uninhibited child-like purity, there was a certain ancient wisdom, a deeper understanding of Truth, behind his eyes that sparkled silvery grey.

“Yes, looking and wondering about the man inside…”

“Aye, the Great King. Do you intend to see him?”

“Of course, that is why I am here! I have come very far in order to speak with him. I must: he is the only one who can help me… if he will.”

“I’ve met the King,” the lad replied wistfully. “He healed me and he gave me the gift of music and inspiration, and now I travel around the kingdom and play music for his pleasure and for the hope of those I meet. Yes, he can help anyone, and he will - this I know most assuredly… And if you want to get to him sooner, I would be glad to take you to him myself.”

“Oh, would you? That would be wonderful! Thank you!” Lynn felt such relief that she nearly wept with joy.

“You’re welcome. My name’s Trust, but most people around here call me Rusty. Now then, I’ll give you my scarf as a blanket for tonight. It’s not much, but it will be sufficient for this evening, and at the first light-”

“You mean we must wait until morning!” Lynn cried.

“I’m afraid so, but the night won’t last forever, and I shall play you a lullaby to help you sleep soundly. Rest easy and listen to my song…”

As Rusty spoke in gentle and soothing tones, he leaned back against the wall of the shop, and drew a small silver instrument from his pocket and put it to his lips. A soft, humming tune warmed the evening air around them and stirred indescribable hope in the fairy’s heart.

“What is that?” she asked, snuggling into the folds of the worn blue scarf given to her. “It’s splendid, but is like nothing I’ve ever seen or heard before.”

“That’s because it is a special gift from the Great King, perfectly designed by him for my use in expressing the things he has put in my heart. Sometimes I don’t even know what it all means, but that’s when I know beyond all doubt that it comes from him…” Rusty did not look at the fairy anymore, but up to the castle on the hill, then closed his own eyes and played a melody that seemed to flow from his heart as he simply breathed into the instrument. The fairy also closed her eyes and allowed the beauty of it to melt her fears and anxious thoughts, and she was soon fast asleep with a smile on her lips.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Fairy Wings (8/13)

The kingdom looked full of activity and excitement, and the colors and noises shocked the fairy, who had grown accustomed to the peace and solitude of the great forest. In fact, she happened upon this street during the busiest day of the year – the Spring Equinox Festival. This was the day for craftsmen to show off their work, and for merchants to sell their products to visitors from the surrounding lands who enjoyed the bustling chaos of a bazaar. The view from the hill was a thrilling flurry of rainbows in motion: tents and shelters draped in red, blue, and green fabrics and crowded almost on top of each other, competing to be the biggest, brightest, or fanciest, and competing for the attention of a thousand strangers with bulging purses and pockets. The open-air stalls were hemmed in by the regular shops, with doors and windows wide open, inviting browsers to come further in and linger a while. The whole scene was beautiful and adventurous.

However, as Lynn descended into the street, her fascination turned to fright. The noise that sounded harmonious and layered from above now clanged and clambered within, clashing in discord and echoing off the walls of the shops in the background, amplifying, reverberating around the packed street. Musicians played their own songs on whistles and lutes on the corners and in the alley ways where people gathered in clusters and dropped shillings in amusement. Lynn felt a sense of aimlessness among the people as she dodged feet and weaved around baskets and jars, always fighting to keep her focus on the castle in the distance. While everyone else was content to dabble in fine or cheap merchandise, she was hopeful that a far greater treasure soon would be found if she persisted in her quest. The shoppers wandered in every direction and turned and stopped with no consideration for anyone else, especially the tiny winged creature who felt trapped in a pulsing wave of giants. And to add to the noise, buyers and sellers talked over each other, making bids and propositions, arguing and urging until they decided it was too much or too good.

“Fresh fish!” a beefy, hairy man claimed in a loud voice. “Today only, a special on flounder - two for the price of one! Get two flounders for one!” Lynn was startled by the overwhelming presence of the man and the even more overwhelming smell of his product, which seemed to her not so very fresh.

The odor lingered at the next stall, where an elderly woman tried to out-shout the fisherman: “Hand-crafted rugs! The best quality and finest dyed materials! What am I bid?”

Lynn crossed the street, and the smell of fish now blended with the scent of fresh pies sitting on the window sill of a bakery. “Apple Cobbler! Gooseberry Pie! Cherry Danish!” the baker shouted out the upstairs window, welcoming any and all to enter in.

The enticing smell followed the fairy to the little tent that had an elegantly painted sign advertising magic mirrors and other enchantments. And just as quickly as her curiosity in the magic came, it went again as she felt the heat of the blacksmith’s house, where she glimpsed everything from tiny charms to farmer’s plows. Then again her attention was diverted to a stand where dozens of little glass vials held spells for beauty, true love, and whiter teeth. She could scarcely pause at any of these, as hurried feet surrounded her and carried her along as if in a current.

By sunset that day, Lynn looked behind her at the chaos that was being closed up and carried away, and then she looked before her at a long, inviting path that led to the castle. It wound through a garden that looked wild and perfect all at once, and ran alongside a pleasant stream that flowed down from the majestic fortress to the busy village.

The castle was brilliantly decorated with the pink and gold highlights of the fading sun, and fog settled round its gates and blanketed the surrounding hills, coloring them with the purple hues of dusk. She shivered as the heat and light of the sun sank behind the trees. Then she looked again to the castle and paused in wonder at the sight.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Fairy Wings (7/13)

Days passed, and Lynn seemed to be hopelessly lost. She’d turned back in the direction she thought she came from, because her fear and doubt urged her to return to everything in her past that was certain – the flowers, the dances, the eternal Spring... but the woods were so twisted and perplexing that she feared she was going in circles and she would die here in a weary and helpless place, far from the glory and beauty of the Faerie Realm. She danced and sang no more. Though her shoes continued to provide strength for her feet to carry on, the burden of her lifeless wings hung heavily on her shoulders and the weight of her sadness bent her head low, so her heart now struggled to keep moving one step in front of the other.

The longer she traveled, the heavier the burden of doubt and despair became. She dreaded that she would wander the world forever, never seeing the King, never knowing his good purpose for her, never being anything but a lonely, broken and useless fairy. More than once she collapsed and cried and slept, longing for home and for a King who would truly love her. She dreamed about him, speaking words of blessing and honor to her heart, wrapping his giant arms warmly around her, wiping away her tears… and she would awake with such a desire to be in his presence that she could scarcely breathe. Still, a thread of hope remained, and without her even realizing it, the Great King was calling her unto himself. The wooded path that the fairy thought she aimlessly traveled, randomly chose, and often doubted was all the time carefully and purposefully ordained for her by the One who knew the best way.

Several weeks after wandering through the thick trees, she came upon a clearing, which opened to display a wondrous sight. Before her lay a great kingdom of winding and narrow streets and small buildings tightly packed together, and in the distance on a hill was a majestic castle of stone, with purple banners unfurled and waving in the wind, and she could only guess that it was the home of a mighty ruler…. Or the mighty ruler, she thought with both joy and fear.

Where to go from here? Lynn could see the road ahead but did not know what she would find there. She knew what lay behind, but as hard as she tried she could not return, and looking back she wondered if she really wanted to after all. Hesitating on the top of the hill, she shifted from one weary foot to the other and considered her choice.

Finally she shook her head, “There is too much at stake,” she told herself. “What if the King is not as good as I thought? What if he cannot help me – or won’t help me? What if I am meant to live in this weakness and loneliness forever? I couldn’t bear his rejection. It’s better if I leave now, give up the dream, and spare myself that pain.” With that, she faced again the dark forest.

But while everything in her body and mind told her to leave her dreams there and go home, her heart screamed louder than the logic of despair, the lavender slippers turned her around, and against every reason she had invented for herself, she stepped toward the castle of the Great King.