The Magic of Lullabies
With great reluctance, I recently finished THE GOOSE GIRL, a classic of Shannon Hale’s. In it are some stirring fairy tales from Hale's own imagination, told by the yellow-haired Isi to a hall full of "forest-born" peasants with sleepy eyes.
The loveliness of these tales reminds me of a lullaby sung by Dick Van Dyke in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It’s no surprise that such an enchanting tune comes from a film about the value of children, and the selfish tendency of society to shun them. What I particularly adore about this lullaby is that it is both a bedtime song and a fairy tale. The effects of imagining such a place as Hushabye Mountain are soothing, mystifying, and exhilarating.
It’s important to practice seeing the world metaphorically. Only then can we begin to envision the spiritual realm that surges unseen through the core of physical reality. Isn’t it magical that children can do this best? Maybe that’s why some of the most powerful saints in history were children or child-like.
By writing children’s tales, I think in some way I am reaching out to the children to whose spirits I aspire. I am looking for a way back to a state of constant wonder, so that I might apply the wisdom of experience and find an even deeper awe.
That’s really what a lullaby does, doesn't it? Song and simple story remind us of the giddy secret that the realities we touch and see are only crumbs from the banquet, that we collect and observe and wonder over until we are raised tall enough to take in the bounty of the table.