I received a letter from Malaysia informing me that the deceased King of Iran wants me to inherit his royal fortune. All I need to do to claim it is send money to an anonymous post office box in England to pay the lawyers who will release the funds to those who have faith in the windfall. You, too, have probably received one of the many scams announcing that some wealthy, famous, royal, or spiritual person has stashed away a fortune, now available to an elite group. Your luck will be proven when you send cash.
As I re-read my invitation from the King’s secret agent, I pondered why such ruses are so attractive. There is a shred of truth in every lie. On a subconscious level we all realize that there is a realm of vast wealth waiting for us to claim it. Our soul recognizes that the world we walk daily is definitely not the kingdom of heaven and we long to return to the domain of which we retain a faint but ecstatic memory. The idea that we are heir to a great estate vibrates at a cellular level. So when the email or letter arrives informing us that our hidden estate is now available, we perk up. In a way, it’s true. We are heirs to a great kingdom. Not the one the scammers are selling us. The one Jesus referred to when he told his inquisitors, “My kingdom is not of this world.”
Romantic love stories also embody a spark of truth. We all want to be enjoy the bliss of true relationship—and rightfully so. Love is our natural state. Yet most of us have drifted far from that state, so we feel like the ashen-cheeked Cinderella scrubbing floors under the whip of wicked stepsisters. In the midst of our toil we wish, hope, pray, and know that a dashing Prince or Princess Charming will scoop us up on a white horse, sweep us away from our misery and restore us to the castle where we belong. There we will be pampered by with plush beds, royal gardens, and servants feeding us grapes. A childish flight of imagination? On one level, for sure.
Yet on another level, part of us knows we deserve true love. We know that the meager substitutes for love for which we have settled definitely cannot be it. So we turn to an endless stream of love songs, novels, and movies to transport us to the realm our heart desires and give us even the briefest taste of how we know it could be and should be.
So in a way fairy tales are true. They remind us of who we are and what we deserve. The tricky part is how to get there. If you are depending on winning the lottery to pay off your credit card bills or for Mr. or Ms. Right to liberate you from your boring relationship, you might have a long wait. You might even need to get a job or deepen your communication with your current partner. When my friend Sandy’s trust fund ran out, she struggled to pay her bills. Sandy would do anything for money except get a job. She prayed, affirmed, visualized, created a treasure map, feng shui’d her house, painted her door red, went to prosperity workshops, tithed, and called upon ascended masters. She just didn’t want to do anything to earn money. Friends offered her jobs, but she turned them down. She expected the universe to support her, but she didn’t want to participate in the process. Sandy was absolutely correct in expecting the universe to support her. She just didn’t understand that the money could come through her as well as to her.
In a way, living in the world surpasses the magic of fairy tales. There is as much wonder and sparkle here—maybe more—as in the bedtime stories you were read. God does not hide in remote kingdoms above the clouds. God is revealed by lifting our mundane activities to a level of sacredness. When you follow joy, you experience heaven on earth. As Frederick Buechner nobly declared, “To find our calling is to find the intersection between our own deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger.”
During the last few decades angels have become very popular. Lots of people use angel cards, shop at angel paraphernalia stores, and become certified angel practitioners. I personally believe in angels and I call upon them. Yet dependence on angels is exceeded only by being an angel. God will not save the world through winged haloed entities descending from the clouds. God will save the world through people like you and me. People who sometimes get irritable, eat extra desserts, and have steamy sexual fantasies. If you would like to meet an angel, look in the mirror. To summon angels is one thing. To be an angel is another. The latter will get you and the world far more mileage. The earth is not a place where angels thrive. It is a training ground to become one.
As the song goes, “Fairy tales can come true. It can happen to you.” Don’t wait for your fairy tale to come true. For the best fairy tale formula, follow the command of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, chief officer in one of our most popular contemporary fairy tales, Star Trek. Daily Captain Picard told his crew, “Make it so.”