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The Fluff of Life?


When you wish upon a star… I can still recall that sweet song from Walt Disney’s Pinocchio. I also remember standing on tiptoes at my bedroom window when I was about five years old gazing at the stars in the night sky and wondering which one held the magic power to grant my wishes. We wish it worked that way, don’t we? Tossing coins into a fountain. Blowing out candles on a birthday cake. Searching for the genie in a lamp waiting to be released in order to fulfill us our heart’s desires. Making wishes and having them come true with a snap of our fingers.

Silly customs, aren’t they? Or maybe wishing in the first place is the height of all silliness. There’s a scene in the first Book Club movie (groan – I know: chick flick!) in which Vivian (Jane Fonda) is standing at a fountain with Arthur (Don Johnson) who encourages her to make a wish and toss a coin. She does and he asks her what she wished for. “I always wish for the same thing,” she replies, “a healthy planet.” He sputters back at her, “That’s not even a wish! Wishes are personal, not global. And besides, you can’t tell anybody your wish – it negates the whole thing!” Silliness. Sheer silliness.

And yet it’s a perfectly natural thing to do. Wish and dream and hope and pray, perhaps for a healthy planet and perhaps for a healthy child and maybe for our own body to be healthy. Telling someone about our desires, however, doesn’t negate our longings; it might be the first step in working toward their fulfillment. It could possibly yield a partnership. In the Quaker tradition, discernment is always a community process. And discerning isn’t all that far removed from wishing.

Perhaps one of the keys to having our wishes come true is how much of ourselves we are willing to invest in them. Going beyond thinking of them, wondering about them, daydreaming over them. Moving toward discussing them. And eventually launching out to do something about them.

Another key could be assessing the viability of our wishes. There’s often a tricky balance between a desire being appropriate and being attainable, being worthy and being workable. Are resources needed? Will risks be involved? Are there benefits to be realized and, if so, for whom? We do well to examine a wish through the lens of a thousand questions.

But perhaps the most important key to our wishes coming true is in considering the nature of them. Are they childish desires hurled toward a lucky star? Selfish wishes for personal gain won by a coin toss? Flimsy dreams that would vaporize like candle smoke on a stormy night? Pitiful prayers for an easily manipulated magician to appear with a winking eye? What do we truly desire and to what/whom do we look to for fulfillment?

Very rarely in the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments does a divine being ask a human being what s/he wishes for. Insightful, isn’t it? Perhaps God is not in the wish fulfillment business. And perhaps we would do well to invest in the treasures we already have on hand.

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