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Angels and Dragons and Unicorns and Sparks

(Hey, everyone! Sorry for the gap in posts. Been sick and we went under contract for a house! Now we’re suffering from oh-crap syndrome. Oh crap, now we’ll have a yard. Oh crap, now we need to trim trees. Oh crap, now we need to buy tools…..ect.


The first time I opened Walking on Water by Madeleine L’Engle I promptly closed it and shoved it back on my mother’s bookshelf, with all the “forbidden” books (including all her marriage, Your Teen In Puberty, and *gasp* sex books).

The second time I opened Walking on Water, I was a senior on the bus on my way back from a church trip to Mexico. And I fell in love, especially with this quote:

“The artist, if he is not to forget how to listen, must retain the vision which includes angels and dragons and unicorns, and all the lovely creatures which our world would put in a box marked Children Only.”

Angels and dragons and unicorns! There’s a spark in those words. Can you feel it? It’s a roar of possibility, a soaring sense of anything-is-possible.Unicorn_Dragon

I brought the book with me to England, to Turkey, to Israel—until blue highlighter bled and mold grew on the pages. In all these far-off places, the glitter of life, the spark of those words abounded—I could truly believe angels and dragons and unicorns could really happen!

But now, my health keeps me on the couch and watching way too many episodes of Vampire Diaries and Pretty Little Liars than I want to admit. It’s harder to believe in angels and dragons and unicorns when my day is filled with icepacks and painkillers and yet-another-frozen-pizza-thanks-husband-for-dinner.

But I can believe in the spark.

Anything is still possible—I can create them. I can create worlds, destroy worlds, and the magic and the glitter can still be there, even if it’s in my mind. And the struggle of bringing these possibilities to life on paper is exhilarating.

I came across Smartling, a website translation company, and got to thinking about what aspect of writing I’d want preserved from language to language. I’d have to say: the spark. A very nebulous answer, I know, but bear with me.

It would be a shame if “angels and dragons and unicorns” were changed to “flying people and big winged lizards and horses with one horn.”

There’s no creativity in the words, no sense of possibility. And we lose everything that makes those words special—angels so terrifying humans fall to their knees; fire-breathing dragons that can bring destruction onto a city in half a day; unicorns so innocent and pure their magic is other-worldly.

We lose the spark.

And for those of us who sometimes struggle with keeping the fire of life going, once in a while we need a little helpful spark.

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