Recently, I spent several hours on the banks of the Salmon River building faerie palaces with small children. This was not a planned event; usually wonderment unfolding is an unplanned event. It’s a “be present in the moment” kind of experience. I’ve lived in this area for over 20 years but this was my first visit to the river near Somes Bar, which is a sad-admission moment.
I was there to celebrate a good friend turning 40. He and his family reserved a group campsite for several days and folks came and camped with them or just came for the day. My wonderment unfolding companions were four little girls, ages 3-7 and one little boy, perhaps six, and the faeries themselves, of course. It was a magical day for me. It was also quite a lot of work.
I generally am drawn to little folks and invisible beings, it’s just the way I am, so instead of hanging out with my husband or the wonderful adults there I spent the majority of my time in the river with lovely demanding children. One little girl, an old buddy, was happy to see me. She wanted me to sleep in her tent with her parents, brother and dog and she was sure they wouldn’t mind. We have a long faerie history together. She is a lover of all things faerie or fey and I regularly send her little offerings, from that realm. A few years ago I sent her one of my favorite books, A Fairy Went a-Marketing by Rose Fyleman and illustrated by Jamichael Henterly. If you don’t own this book, go get it right now, I’m serious. Northtown Books always carries it. It is an extraordinarily important book.
Back to the land of Once Upon A Time…. Two faerie lovers decided to begin working with wet river sand, stones, sticks, leaves and water in order to construct a special magical place. Pretty soon, other little ones wanted to help. The little girl I was initially helping didn’t want younger helpers, only me. So, I began to split my time between several small children creating an avenue or village of faerie structures. Each young person was wishing for assistance with their constructions and didn’t want to share palaces or constructions. Each of them had their own ideas. At one point, the conversation came around to a discussion about skills. One of the older children had more ability to make things and this led to a slight shunning or dissing of the younger ones’ skill set. This kind of attitude is not conducive to faerie enterprises.
I pointed out that every person has special skills and talents that they can offer to this project and to life. I asked them to think about and share one of their own special skill or talents. I asked them to guess what my special talent was. They were only puzzled for a moment and since we were about an hour and half into things at this point, their responses were: “helping people” or “faerie” stuff. I felt seen by my companions; a magical moment of the best sort. I responded to their answers with: “My special talent is kindness, it is something I have to work hard at all the time” And then we resumed construction.
One of the younger girls said that she had never built anything before and didn’t know how to build a sand-castle or a faerie palace or anything. Whether this was true or not, wasn’t relevant, it’s how she felt. She was so eager and so sad at the same time. A part of her afraid that there was something wrong or missing about her. She was a tiny fey kind of thing. She really looked like she belonged in the land of faerie, so palace building seemed like a perfect pairing. She could have been a faerie for all I know, faeries are tricky and love to fool folks. We dug into the wet sand together. I brought her rocks and sticks. She found leaves and began to build her first faerie home. Her fear vanished, almost immediately, in the act of doing. She found her niche. That was a spectacular moment!
The one boy felt very left out throughout much of the process. He told me so and repeated his feelings several times. The girl energy was pretty fierce and the ratio was off. This boy was not squirting water guns or splashing in the water, he was wanting to help build faerie palaces. He was particularly drawn to the beautiful young girl who was closest to his age. The girl he wanted to work with is very delicate and is someone growing into her generous self, but she wasn’t quite there yet. She was insistent that her structure was the best and that it was secret and not part of the greater avenue of villages. She had zero interest in sharing me or her construction with the young boy or any of the other younger girls.
Young and unjaded, these children expressed themselves fully and shamelessly. Luckily, I am fairly or faerily adept at handling complex emotions and interactions and definitely familiar with dynamics like this. Besides faerie construction, my time on the river bank involved many teaching moments. Making sure that each child got some of my focused singular attention and some of waiting for me to be available was just one. They were given encouragement to work together, to trust their own sense of what should be done or just to be patient. The faerie fort that the young man built was ameliorated by the young builder who “didn’t know” how to build anything. She arranged the rocks I brought her in a large circle of stones around his fort. This was something he wanted help with. He was very into having help and sharing his construction and finally felt happy.
And, of course, the dogs and the humans all invariably knocked parts of everyone’s structures down. The movement of the water and flow of traffic all contributed to the inevitable collapses and structural shifting. So, I told them: “You know whenever something breaks or shifts in your faerie dwellings it is because the faeries themselves liked that particular part so much they took it to the Land of Faerie.” This was a new concept to them. Parallel universes are always a good idea to share with children and they are core to who I am.
In the Land of Judaism, where I mostly reside, we have this structure of parallel realms. The Holy Temple on earth is a mirror image of the Holy Temple in the Heavenly Realms. Its construction, desecration, destruction and re-dedication all happen in two places. This idea is central to my life. Everything I do in this realm has ramifications in another realm. My prayers, which bridge the two worlds, have unseen and unknowable effects, but for me they are the Holy Temple walls I am rebuilding. I need the world to be a reflection of Holiness and I have to construct that. It’s not up to anyone else to do my part of the job. I have a unique set of building skills that I bring to the project. Everyone does, when we engage with clarity and intention, wholeness unfolds.
Whether I am involved with children, my husband, my friends, a clerk at the store, or my cats, all of my interactions are opportunities to craft something precious, fine and Holy. I had such great teachers and builders with me on the Salmon River Bank Faerie Row Construction Project.
When I’m awake, I see that I am surrounded by extraordinary companions. I am deeply conscious of how truly blessed I am as I endeavor to mend and build a structure for healing here and now wherever I encounter brokenness.
Nicole sends her faerie blessings to you from her cozy home, where she regularly endeavors to share and create the beauty, kindness and goodness she sees everywhere, and which are gifts from the Realm of the Holy and the Fey.~ Just Being Frank column published in the Arcata Eye on Wednesday, August 22, 2012 © Nicole Barchilon Frank