Here There Be Mermaids – Ignatian Spirituality

We hadn’t anticipated mermaids.

Unicorns, certain. The queen? Most possible. Knights and jousting and turkey legs—clearly.

But mermaids? My daughters had been enchanted.

“I have a question, Daddy,” the eldest, 4-and-a-half, stated.

“Sure,” I replied. “Ask the pirate.” I motioned for the person with the beard and seafaring hat to lean over.

“Can mermaids talk under water?”

The pirate appeared considerate for a second, scratched at his beard, after which launched right into a full clarification of the ins and outs of oceanic mermaid communication. It was like being a part of a Discovery channel documentary. I used to be impressed. So was my daughter.

“Good question,” I stated. She smiled, her eyes by no means leaving the 12-foot creature swimming within the tank in entrance of us: the fish half all colourful scales and the woman half not all that totally different from how my daughter sees herself.

This was a brand new exhibit on the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire and maybe the most effective. Over the course of a number of hours, totally different mermaids got here and went from inside an unlimited above-floor tank. The girls would swim about for some time, popping up occasionally to say one thing in what I assume is the native tongue of Merfolk earlier than diving again all the way down to ferret out some half-buried treasure. (Treasure you may buy, the pirate enthusiastically reminded us. Only $10 for a shell necklace foraged by a mermaid. We purchased two.)

“I didn’t know I was going to get to see a real, live mermaid,” my daughter stated as we walked away, half to herself, half to me. “I wasn’t sure they really existed.”

I smiled on the distant look in her eyes.

I really like the Renaissance Faire. It’s a manifestation of the tales I get pleasure from studying: sword fights and dragons and fairy magic. There’s one thing about strolling by means of these grounds with a way that everybody there may be prepared to craft this wondrous, immersive story, collectively. We attempt to go yearly.

The Renaissance Faire, for me, is the embodiment of that nice G. Ok. Chesterton quote—or, a minimum of Neil Gaiman’s paraphrasing of it: “Fairy tales are more than true—not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.”

In that sense, the Renaissance Faire is a surprisingly spiritual expertise. The magic and the paranormal and, dare I say, the sacramental are proper there on the floor. And the lot of us—garbed in medieval clothes—have a task to play within the cosmic duel of sunshine and darkish.

Sometimes, all now we have is our creativeness and the tales we’re instructed, and from there we take a leap of religion into one thing larger.

Swords are highly effective not merely due to the sharpness of the blade however due to the values, hopes, and aspirations their wielding represents. Fairy gardens are wondrous not due to the artisanal items that may be bought however due to the sense that one thing mysterious is perhaps lurking simply across the nook.

And mermaids, properly, they’re the manifestation of two little women’ desires, the collision of fact and legend, a reminder that the universe is huge and miraculous, and our imaginations can carry us to shores unknown. They remind us that generally, all now we have is our creativeness and the tales we’re instructed, and from there we take a leap of religion into one thing larger. That there’s extra to this life than what our eyes can see. That the thriller is the purpose—the thriller inside, the thriller with out. That now we have inside us what we have to battle the dragons at hand.

The Renaissance Faire could also be an unlikely place for religion formation. And but, my daughters left these joyful grounds imbued with a way of marvel and awe on the mysteries this life can maintain. They left wanting to study extra and to dive again into their books and act out their wildest imaginings.

They left with souls tilled and able to obtain seeds of a religion that claims the lifeless will probably be raised, that the God of the universe involves them in unexpected, surprising locations, and that hope within the face of the unimaginable is certainly hope properly-positioned.

Our God shouldn’t be a mermaid or a unicorn or perhaps a king or queen of royal descent. God is a lot extra, a lot better, a lot additional past our understanding—an invite into thriller each intimate and huge. And but, God needs to be identified by us; God ushers us deeper and deeper into the thriller of Godself.

And how will we get there? Through a properly-fashioned creativeness, an creativeness that makes room for shock and marvel. An creativeness that wanders the grounds of the Renaissance Faire not with cynical disbelief however with a disposition of awe, curiosity, and delight.

For by means of that awe, curiosity, and delight, God attracts close to.

Image by John Huxtable from Pixabay.

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