It is a gift to be able to find magic in the ordinary things of life.
My Aunt Shirley left a trail of creativity and imagination in my young life. Although we haven’t talked much in my adult years, the sweet fragrance of those times still captivates me to this day. Having been reminded recently of the fragility of life, I prefer to tell people of their encouraging impact while they are still around to hear it. Shirl, this is for you.
My aunt would sit on the wide front stairs of the farmhouse verandah at sunset. Surrounded by a small herd of children, myself included, she would tell us stories. I’m uncertain what it was that made these moments unforgettable. Perhaps it was the stillness of the dusk, the soft soundtrack of the croaking frogs nearby or Shirl’s imaginative story-telling abilities. It was probably some combination of all three. We heard about the adventurous escapades of Aunt Hepzibah and her magic carpetbag, among other stories. The tales were never long enough. Captivated, we could have listened to her for hours.
Every experience with my aunt was infused with imagination and creativity and she taught me to love both. To this day I most love the stories that burst with imagination – Tolkien, J.K Rowlings, C.S Lewis or Orson Scott Card. The art of storytelling is on my list of things I want to develop this year.
One day my aunt told Graham, my older brother, and me to get ready because we were going on an adventure. I think I was probably about 6 or 7 years old at the time. She packed her battered, old rucksack with some surprises for us and off we went. We started walking through the bushveld towards the dam that was closest to the old farmhouse. We were off on an adventure. Life was full of excitement and possibility. We arrived at the dam and after gathering dry wood, my aunt made a fire on the rocky ground near the water’s edge. As if she was the magical aunt Hepzibah herself, Shirl pulled the next part of our adventure out of her bag. Reflecting with my adult eyes it wasn’t much of anything – a container of flour and salt to which she added water. As a child, my imagination was alive with the possibility that someone could create dinner with this goopy mix. We helped her wrap the sticky dough around a smooth stick and she cooked it over the flames. We ate warm, smoky bread that day with a sticky-salty-sweet mixture of peanut butter and honey. I felt like I was part of one of her marvelous, magical stories.
We don’t need much to find the ordinary magic in life, only the desire to see it and perhaps to put away our adult eyes and explore with the heart of a child.
These days, I often find magic in the sunrise or the woods. Sometimes, I catch glimpses of it when someone chooses forgiveness instead of resentment, courage instead of fear or love despite everything. Sometimes magic comes through the skill, creativity and imagination of another, just like it did with my aunt.
My sister-in-law, Kirsten Meyer, recently created her version of magic. This footage is captured at my dad’s house in the Western Cape, South Africa. The video is shared with her permission and features the owls that were residents for a while, and the Sarah McLoughlin song, Ordinary Miracle.
I am grateful to Shirl for giving me a taste for finding the ordinary miracles and magic in life.
This Week’s Photos
Just some ordinary magic that I captured this past week.
I’m running another mental fitness course starting April 10th. This course and practice have helped me learn to see the ordinary magic and miracles in my life. Please let me know before April 5th if you would like to register.