The World Is Enchanted

by Fr. Bob Wild


G.K. Chesterton, in his book, Orthodoxy, has a marvelous chapter called “The Ethics of Elf Land.” In it, he makes the point that the world is a magical place. (And if it’s magical, there must be a Magician.)

Chesterton said that when he was a little boy, his mother and nurse used to tell him fairy tales. He thought these stories were wonderful, but as he grew up, people told him that they are not real. They told him that “real” life is what the politicians, economists, and philosophers say it is.

He found, however, that this was not the case. The older he got, the more he believed the economists were wrong and the fairy tales were right!

There is truth, for example, in the story of Beauty and the Beast: If you kiss something ugly, it becomes loveable. Cinderella is really the story of the Magnificat: lowly people will be exalted.

Then there’s the remarkable story of Robinson Crusoe. Chesterton says: “Let’s face it; we’re all saved from a shipwreck, the shipwreck of non-being. We didn’t have to be at all! Everything is salvaged. Everything around us is salvaged from the wreck, and so we ought to be very grateful for everything that we see.”

In the ethics of elf land, there’s always a condition: IF. You can live in the glass castle, if you don’t say a certain word. You can marry the princess, if you don’t walk through the Black Forest and touch the juniper tree.

Chesterton says that real life is like that too. Everything is given to us, if we keep the laws of God that he has implanted in us. Then, everything is a gift we can enjoy.

But sometimes we’re like Cinderella who says, “But why do I have to be home at midnight?” We forget that the most magnificent thing is that there’s a dance at all!

We don’t live in a perfectly logical, mathematical universe. It’s much more like a fairyland than a laboratory. Nature is chock full of so many wonders that no one could possibly appreciate them all, not even in a whole lifetime.

All creation is ours to enjoy if we pray, if we keep the commandments of God, if we obey our heavenly Father.

Believe in this enchanted world. Enter it. It’s the true country of our soul. It’s much more exciting than the scientific laboratory, where everything is measured and predictable.