When the Magic Fell Away


I worried about how my baby sister would take the news that Santa wasn’t real. I don’t know when I found out, but I was younger than she was when she was told. I think those kind of reveals came to me too early. (Maybe not.) But life seemed easier to deal with when the possibilities of random magic were real. I guess I didn’t want my sister stripped of that. And when it came time to tell my daughter, her response was more articulate than I imagine mine could have been. She said, “I wish you hadn’t told me that.” And I knew immediately what she really meant. I had stolen the magic from her childhood.

Through the years after the myth of Santa was broken, I checked the validity of other such things. Fairy tales didn’t feel real once I saw the pattern of children and parents that didn’t look anything like me. Yeah – and animals don’t talk like that. But was it still possible to claim the notion of true love and happily ever after? I didn’t realize I was holding on to that one until my early twenties.

So all this comes to mind as I wrestle with the real world community that I claim most familiar to me. We have journeying alongside us, quotes, slogans, tag lines and mantras that we feel are meaningful to us. They may even help us to be resilient against the scenarios that trouble us most. Feel goodness in times of deep Yuck. And I was ok with that, mostly, until last week.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Or something like that.

I would see this phrase and nod as if to acknowledge it as a badge of club membership. There was some emotion tied up with it – kind of like when someone crosses their arms in front of them post-Black Panther style…like a secret handshake to get you into the clubhouse. There was something that resonated within me, in my core, as if a kindred spirit had been found which my spiritual self translated as “someone safe.” Because while we’re journeying, it’s good to know where the respites are – where spiritual fortresses or sanctuaries exist to satisfy our need for shelter and sustenance.

Then I was made aware that the actions of one such phrase-bearer appeared to be biased against some forms of personhood. I was confused. Isn’t that a type of injustice? And then the magic fell away… we have different understandings and expectations for what justice means. I know that’s a “no duh” statement. But I had accepted a naïve untruth that if someone espoused knowledge of what injustice is, they must also necessarily share the same definition as I do. But what if justice in their minds had more to do with deformed perceptions of purity, for example, such that injustice for them is antagonistic to my understanding of injustice? We could both hold up the same sign and be saying totally opposite things.

Or maybe injustice means the same thing even if our belief systems are different. I don’t like the use of the word “tolerance” when it comes to that. Someone can hate the idea of me (which I found out in my forties) but tolerate having me present with them. Should I accept their position on justice or should I brace myself on Election Day? Well……

So my inner sanctum is going through another healing phase. I am taking inventory of all those spiritual oases and rechecking their credentials. And in the meantime, I’m shipping that phrase to the North Pole to live with Santa.


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