Do you see a wood nymph rising out of the mist in the photo? I love to wander through fern growths deep in forests. They don’t prick or have toxins; in fact they are very tasty sautéed with mushrooms and onions. They set off flower arrangements bringing somewhat of a regal look even as roadside Queen Ann’s Lace does along a the River Road in summer. They are whimsical.
Some write that ferns symbolize sincerity towards others. They can also be a symbol of magic, fascination, confidence, shelter, discretion, reverie and a secret bond of love. They are the “glory of the forest” in New Zealand and surround you with smiles in the Hoh Rainforest of the Olympic National Park in Oregon. The annual 170 inches of rainfall brings mosses and mushrooms and ferns over six feet high. It is a magical place where we have visited with my photographer cousin Douglas Frank and his wife Marnie. The photo above brings us the whimsical beauty of the fern.
So whimsy is a word that brings out my creativity. My special book editor, Leslie encouraged me in my latest book God’s Gracious Creatures: Tales of Wings and Tails, to find the mystical in the whimsy of the creatures in our Sanctuary. She suggested that I sprinkle fairy dust on the characters to make them more fun. I believe some of my critters might have attained a bit of it as they run along through the sanctuary fields, forests and ponds. Vocabulary.com writes: Whimsy is what a person who's a dreamer and out of step with the real world might have lots of. People who are full of whimsy are odd, but often fanciful and lovely, like Harry Potter's friend Luna Lovegood. This friend is a free spirit and a little airy-fairy like; now on Dancing with The Stars. Yes, Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland are beautiful examples of whimsical writing. I love C.S. Lewis’s series including the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as well as Mr. Toad’s wild ride in The Wind in The Willows. The characters come to life in their own context bringing whimsical wisdom for young and old alike.
We live in a very serious world where any kidding can be taken as some sort of assault. I know overzealous Christians who would say that reading Harry Potter is bringing witchcraft into your heart. Frankly I just find that fanciful. I love Author/Preacher Chuck Swindoll who says, “A refreshing sense of humor is never distasteful, ill-timed, or tactless. Instead, it lightens our spirits and energizes our thoughts. It helps us step back and not take this fleeting life quite so seriously.” He speaks of a joylessness, “The final result of a joyless existence is sad—a superhigh-level intensity, borderline neurotic anxiety, an absence of just plain fun in one's work, a lack of relaxation, and the tendency to take ourselves much too seriously. We need to lighten up! Yes, spirituality and fun do go well together.” Don’t get me wrong in that there are indeed times to be serious.
Scripture is direct in speaking to it saying, "A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, but when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken" (Proverbs 18:22). It is saying that joy actually is healing. I spend much of my days with hospital cancer patients, which can be deadly serious, excuse the pun. It has been shown that immune-therapy including endorphins secreted by exercise and laughter are better than most Chemo treatments. By the way, this applies to dementia as well. I definitely find the angry and down patients the least likely to succeed. It is in finding the humor in the banal daily living that we can stay on the light side. I illustrated my recent book God’s Gracious Creatures: Tales of Wings and Tails with the animals from our sanctuary. My wife calls them “primitive art.” I like that, it’s whimsical. Check them out on www.greatisgodsfaithfulness.com.