Thursday, September 9, 2010

La Belle et la Bête

"The way to read a fairy tale is to throw yourself in." ~W. H. Auden

Every little girl has her favorite fairytale. The reason the story is her favorite is as unique and individual as she is -- a seemingly innocent glimpse into her psyche and her own brand of romance.

For me, it has always been "Beauty and the Beast."

Ever since I was old enough to pick up a book, I have been captivated by the rich romance and the sensual mystery wrapped up in the tale itself.

...a handsome yet arrogant prince, cursed to bear the visage of a beast until he can find someone to love him for his heart and not for his looks.

A dreamy and intelligent French girl who finds herself in an enchanted castle with a moody, romantic creature because of her father's careless mistake.

I don't know what it is about the story of the melancholy beast and the beautiful young bookworm that captivates me so strongly.

In fact, no matter what version or retelling of the story, I have yet to find one that does not capture the unspeakable essence of the story.

Perhaps it is the dramatic emotions of the story...maybe it is the elegant intensity found as the tale might even be the gripping and beautiful truths found wrapped in this breathtaking package...

...the idea that beauty is more than just the outward appearance...that the heart is more important than the skin...

...the reminder that pride should be tempered with grace and elegance, and that books are doors to a vast world of imagination and romance...

For even in our adult world, filled with real-life problems and sorrows more than our hearts can bear at times, sometimes we need to remember a few basic truths from the fairytales that whisper to our youthful hearts.

Perhaps we need to take the time to crack open the long-forgotten spine of a familiar story, inhale the sent of leather and dust, and allow ourselves to find that place again...

...that place where roses are magical and castles in France hold our imaginations spellbound.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it. ~James Barrie

Visiting the library is like stepping into another world. Shelves and stacks of books line the room from ceiling to floor...

...the rich aroma of ink and dusty volumes whisper of worlds yet hidden in bindings of leather and paper...

...but yet, between these seemingly innocent pages, is danger and mistrust and anger.

For these books are more than just words...more than stories...more than records of fiction or fact...these are the thoughts of an author laid bare before our eyes.

Their secrets are no more.

For I have not yet met a writer who was able to strip all hint of personal emotion from their work.

In fact, the thing that makes an author great is their ability to step into the pages and let their hearts do the writing.

For it is an unmistakable truth that, for a writer to allow another to read their work is to expose their soul.

It is as if we have opened the pages of our most private diary, held it out to the world and begged them...

..."come and read my soul. Feast your eyes upon my hidden mind. And gentle with me."

This may be why so many of us struggle with allowing the world to read our work. It is nothing if not a terrifying idea for someone else to take something that we have poured our hearts and souls into and bring it out into the light.

Pieces of the writer themselves have become lost among the words. It's more than just a fairytale or a retelling of a historical event. It's part of our story, a scrap of our legacy, wrapped up in these fragile pages.

The work itself might be perishable, but the dreams, hopes, and fears that are represented there are enduring.

So please.

Be gentle.

Monday, September 6, 2010


The other day, as I was driving down my parents' driveway, something caught my eye.

A small cluster of yellow and white butterflies were darting around the wildflowers growing in the ditch.

To most, it might have been small and insignificant...a mere trifling speck on the bigger picture of my life.

But at that moment, it struck me as a more powerful, more dramatic thing than a range of mountains or a grove of redwood trees.


Because, in so many ways, I am that butterfly. Or rather, I yearn to become that butterfly. In fact, I am currently trapped in the state in which this winged flower had once found itself, perhaps only mere days before.

I am trapped in a cocoon -- a chrysalis -- of my own selfish heart and emotional whirlwinds...I am bogged down, overwhelmed with a sense of foreboding and guilt.

There is nothing I want more than to break free from this prison of self-destruction and broken dreams... spread my wings and spread my fragile wings towards the warm sunlight, and fly as if tomorrow was nothing more than a whisper on the wind.

And it's then that I fall to my knees, lost in the realization of who I am and how far I have fallen from the purpose for which I have been created... is then that the King of the Universe reaches down and lifts me up from the ground.
He breaks my prison.

He sets me free.

He makes me beautiful.
And He gives me wings to fly.

As the God man passes by / He looks straight through my eyes / The darkness cannot hide / Do you want to be free? / Lift your chains / I hold the key / All power of Heav'n and earth belong to Me...~"Set Me Free," Casting Crowns