My brother-in-law Dan Barstow has a number of distinctions: He’s born on the Fourth of July, education director for the International Space Station, a heckuva nice guy, and, most importantly for today’s reflection, he’s a magician. He does amazing tricks with silver rings, even if you’re just a few feet away. He’s been wowing audiences for decades yet still manages to fit into the black robe that transforms him into Merlin. (I guess that’s a trick in itself.)
But here’s some news. We’re all magicians. Every one of us is a Merlin, a Gandolph, the Kind Witch of the East—or at least we have the potential. As Jesus promised his disciples, “Everything I do, you will be able to do—and more!” What does this mean in practice? Simply that through our words, deeds, and example we can change the lives of others for better or worse. That is, we can do both black and white magic. We perform our tricks for spouses, kids, parents, siblings, friends, co-workers, housemates, peers, even ourselves. Sometime our magic is as simple as keeping a promise. Or it may stem from a word spoken in or out season.
Here’s an example. The summer after 7th grade a classmate threw a party. She and the other girls all knew how to dance jitterbug. That evening Linda, the hostess, taught me—a good deed which has stood me in good stead ever since. To my lifelong shame, however, I did not return the favor. Instead, I made unkind remarks to some mutual friends about her prominent aquiline nose. My words must have gotten back to her, since in fall Linda appeared with a new, more conventionally beautiful nose. Since then I hope I’ve been more careful in what I’ve said and done. Yet our challenge remains—to use our magical powers wisely.