Monday, October 8, 2012

Making magic

How can my heart not swell to its seams when I watch him these days? This boy, for whom so much of life can be a struggle, he has discovered a space where he soars.

There he stands, cards fanned out in his hand like a peacock's tail, eyes shining, with a smile daring to escape his lips. He is a new creation.

You see, most days, he does not stand this straight. Most days, he would rather gaze at words on a page or at the clouds oozing across the sky than at someone's face. Connection is something he holds close and private. Only the special few are let into his world and, some days, even I am not special enough.

So, when I see him look at people the way he looks at them when he has transmogrified into this new character, well, I can't help but embrace the contradiction:

a world of illusion can be a safe and nurturing place. 

I suppose that's why they call it magic.

This sleight of hand that he has developed has given him power--power over circumstances, over assumptions, over expectations. For a boy who wilts when faced with the reality of any one of those things, this new ability of his is a game changer. In the moments when he has drawn in his audience, you can see this metamorphosis in progress. Yes, it is just a card trick but this mama heart knows that this, all of this? It is the breaking open of a chrysalis.

And I know that he feels it, too. He knows what life as a caterpillar is like.

I remember when we fostered monarchs, all those years ago. We studied their every move. Their ravenous appetites. Their efficiency in translating food to growth. Then their masterful weaving skills that shrouded them in mystery. The days when they were cloaked in shadow stretched out endlessly and we began to doubt their existence inside. I remember that even in those long days of waiting, my eye kept finding that gilded thread that sealed them in. Like beads of gold wound round the top, they were sealed in by something not of this world.

And then came the transformation. When all that was hidden began to be seen. The shadow that had kept them obscured began to lighten. Suddenly, it was as if they were behind glass and what we began to see was not what had entered into that hallowed space. Things had most definitely changed.

So, I watch him, now. This boy-caterpillar-turned-beautiful. And I am reminded that all is not as it seems. That even a boy who usually chooses the cocoon can be transformed. That grace is gilding his seams and he can become

the boy who lived.


  1. I was inspired recently by hearing John Medina, a brain scientist talk at Laity Lodge with a group of writers. He was telling us in the car on the way to the airport about how he teaches his son math using Napolean (because his son loves Napolean, hates math). And it made me ponder about how our children are made in HIs image, all so unique, that we as parents need to feed that uniqueness so they can fly from the cocoon. All that to say, this post reminded me of that. It sounds as though you are already doing it.

  2. I love you....and both of your Monarchs...
    We both share a mothers love that cannot be explained...
    Now, I just need to get out of my cocoon..

  3. The most thrilling thing about parenting, I think, is finding the glimpse of wings under the caterpillar's skin -- and working with God toward that transformation.
    Been doing that very thing at my house this week, too.
    What a joy to partner in the new creation.

  4. Shelly, that sounds fascinating. My son has Asperger's so we have to think way outside of the box around here. But it is challenging and so when we stumble upon something that breaks through the struggle, it's no small miracle.

  5. Kelli,
    What a privilege it is, to catch glimpses of that beauty, even if only fleetingly. And I am encouraged that we are partners on this journey. Thank you.

  6. Love your Mama heart, and the way your write it out here, Holly.

  7. Thank you, Annie. You are a kindred spirit, you know.

  8. Grateful. :) And totally avoided your blog til I could sit down and soak it in. Love this space & your words here.

  9. now you left me in tears......

  10. Thank you, Annie. I can't tell you how much that means to me. So thankful for you.

  11. of understanding, I'm sure, Shannon. Thank you for reading.

  12. As I read this beautiful piece, I'm listening to the 'Hallelujah' you posted on FB. Both are gorgeous. What is it about magic? And 10-15 year old boys? It works magic, plain and simple. And magnificent magic for your boy. So glad.

  13. I love this. I can identify with your son. I'm not sure which one, but I am like him. It's nice to know someone can see past the inadequacies.