December 25, 2006

Full of Wonder

Earlier this fall, I went to see Christopher Nolan's new film, The Prestige. And, while I was slightly dissappointed by the over-all execution of the story (I HATE it when I can figure out the big twist about 45 minutes before it's actually revealed), I was suitably impressed with the quality of the actual production and the excellent performances.

But, as usual, the thing that stuck out the most in my mind from the film was it's perspective on magic.

I think magic is something that's often misunderstood, both in it's execution and purpose.

About a year ago, I had the opportunity to visit The Magic Castle, a semi-private club for magicians in hills above Hollywood Boulevard. While it's primarily a social setting for stage magicians, they also offer nightly shows all all sorts to the public on a limited basis. In the course of a single night, one guy produce live birds from his sleeves, another made my friend's drivers license fly like a helicopter blade, and, in the night's highlight for me, a 19-year-old kid conjured a car battery seemingly from thin air.

Of course, all throughout the night, several folks in our party were twisting themselves into knots trying to figure out the mechanics of how these magicians pulled off these tricks.

Which, in my opinion, totally misses the point.

When we see something extraordinary, something that seems to defy our average, everyday conception of how the so-called "real" world is supposed to work, we're given an opportunity to surrender to the experience and just bask in the glory and wisdom that there is so much more beyond the average and everyday.

Magic is meant to help us remember that, as the Bard once wrote, "there is more in heaven and earth than is dreamt of in our philosophy, Horatio".

There's that word again. :-)

Magic is there to remind us that there is MORE.

So, while those of us without little children in the house slept a little later, the greatest magic trick of all was being pulled off in houses and living rooms all around the world.

Millions of children went to bed, but did not sleep, because they knew that, in a few hours, their faith in the unseen & the miraculous would be renewed once more.

But let's also not forget all those millions of parents who've been deputized as magicians for a day. Because the joy of the little ones as they find that new Tonka Trick or Tickle-Me Elmo or PS3 under the old artificial tree, I dare say, pales in comparison to the joy of the temporary Santa Clauses of the world.

Because Santa is really more of a title than a person: a cross-cultural transliteration for Jesus - the ultimate deliverer of the ultimate gift in the Christian mythology.

And, as Brother Farrakhan reminded me, we Christians are called to be like Christ. And being Christ-like, in my opinion, has far less to do with being a martyr or an evangelist.

Above all else, Christ is generous.

And when we assume that role, and give a small bit of ourselves to another, make our love tangible, if even for a moment, we receive something back that is intangible, and, ultimately, invaluable.

That's magic.

That's Christmas.

So stop surfing the internet for a bit. :-)

Go out and make some wonder happen.

Happy Holidays.