Léna is also a Regional Manager for Writopia Lab whose mission is to foster joy, literacy, and critical thinking in kids and teens from all backgrounds through creative writing.

"Well, the question is, what do you want to believe? Do you want to live in a world where things are possible, or in one where they aren't?" Cin, Edges.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Willing Suspension of Disbelief

This time of year is rich in layers of story and cultural myths no matter what we believe.

As both readers and writers, we are practiced at the willing suspension of disbelief. We have to have some kind of faith in order to write, to create inner and outer worlds. We also have to have faith in order to read fiction, don't we?

I believe in the power of redemption, Santa Claus and babies. I believe in giving gifts to the spirit in all of us, just as the Wise Men brought gifts to Jesus, and the Norse God Wotan dropped gifts from the sky.

I believe that we have the chance to be reborn again, and again, and again. That believing is keeping our eyes alive, and being open to the concept of seeing what we believe.

Because I don't only want to believe what I see - that is too limiting. What if I am cranky, as can sometimes be the case with all of us? Then I will only be able to see the glass as half empty.

Believing takes a certain amount of work, of risk.

My friend Amanda, a writer friend in Chicago, sent me one of my grandmother's Christmas poems yesterday. The remembering made me smile,  and I thought I would share with you here:

The Risk of Birth
by Madeleine L'Engle

This is no time for a child to be born,
With the earth betrayed by war and hate
And a comet slashing the sky to warn
That time runs out and the sun burns late.

That was no time for a child to be born,
In a land in the crushing grip of Rome;
Honour and truth were trampled by scorn --
Yet here did the Saviour make his home.

When is the time for love to be born?
The inn is full on the planet earth,
And by a comet the sky is torn --
Yet Love still takes the risk of birth.

That says it all, doesn't it? Love.

Right now I am smelling the turkey my husband is cooking for our Christmas Eve feast. I am looking forward to going to church tonight, and then afterward, giving the kids their Christmas pajamas, (the husband and I get some too) and getting ready for bed, only to stay up late to have cookies, hot chocolate and watch It's A Wonderful Life. (Yes, we leave some for Santa!)

Then it's time for visions of sugar plums to dance in our heads, and the willing suspension of disbelief.

Merry Christmas, to my friends who celebrate, and to my other friends, thank you so much for being in my life and helping me to broaden my world view.

In love,


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  1. Thank you for this column, Lena. You said it beautifully, and your family tradition sounds Austin-like. Your grandmother copied out this poem for me when I was trying to figure out if I could trust fate and try to have another baby after Emily's stillbirth. We dared, took the risk, and had Julian and Victoria (now over twenty years ago). Blessings to you all,

  2. Thank you for sharing that Lois - brought tears to my eyes. Blessings to you too!

  3. The poem blessed me as did your post, Lena. Your Christmas Eve tradition sounds lovely and cozy. May your day today be so blessed. Love to you!

  4. Thanks for the reminder. :) Hope your Christmas day was blessed, and now wishing you much happiness and success in the New Year.

  5. Beautiful, Lena...so full of--well, LOV#!

  6. Thank you lovelies! I constantly need these reminders myself . . . we write what we need to hear?

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