One of the tasks I typically do here on the farm is to ride Vulcan, the mower. He and I spend a few hours together every week, and his trusty back gives me a good view around the lay of this place we call home.
My favorite moment of our time is when we pass into the wooded trail above the farmhouse. I can feel the temperature drop, and there’s a breeze that caresses my face . . . every time, it feels like magic, like gift, like mystery . . . like all the ways the most simple things of life come laden with grace.
I feel this same mystery when I slide into a great book – the story seems to shroud me in another place, secret me away behind a magical waterfall of words. I felt this way when I read The Chronicles of Narnia and A Wrinkle in Time as a child, and while I don’t slip into this place as often as an adult – because of my adult perspective or because adult books I read don’t often carry that level of mystery, I’m not sure – I have felt in Butler’s Kindred and Beard’s The Boys of My Youth. The book doesn’t have to weave the supernatural in as a plot point or theme, but something about that element seems to allow me to slide away from my own world more easily, like I’ve walked through a tunnel into a place where trees talk and the wind heals.
But the thing is, I believe those things happen here, in this earth, too. But so much of the magic of life is covered up by scar tissue and noise, so much lost to busyness and business, to the things we decide we need to live and not to life itself. At least, that what I find – that when I am dedicating myself to lists and goals, I slide into a more base, clay-footed version of myself. Then, the magic slides back, away, receding away from the jagged barrier of “to do” that I create.
When I can let go of “to do” though, my life sings. The trees talk – their leaves rusking against each other in a tongue I can almost understand. The wind spins under the curls at the base of my neck, and the lift brings up the corners of my mouth, too. The tiny thunder of goat hooves matches my heartbeat, thud for thud.
It’s about a rhythm, about taking time, about doing this thing here now with all I’m worth, and trusting that the next thing will be there ready when it’s time for me to pour myself there.
It could be easy for me to resent Vulcan, to begin to think of him as a burden I carry, hours of my week lost. But instead, I am choosing to count him my trusty steed and guide into the magic and the breath of the mountain on a moss-lined tunnel.
What places or things in your life remind you of the way magic lives?