Jun 23, 2008

God and the Fairies

by Joyce DiPastena

With the temperatures in Phoenix hitting 110+ the last week or so, I’m trying my best to “think cool”. And what holiday summons cooler thoughts than Christmas?

No, this post is not about celebrating “Christmas in June”. (Though if it weren’t so expensive, cranking down the A/C and drinking a cup of hot chocolate might not be such a bad psychological idea!) But my efforts to “think cool” recently led to memories of Christmas 2007 with my sister. During a special Christmas morning cocoa party (known at our house as a High Kokolorum, for reasons far too complicated to try to explain here!), my sister impulsively pulled out a book of poems that we both loved as a child. (The book is called Silver Pennies. Familiar to anyone else?)

As we enjoyed our High Kokolorum, we took turns reading our favorite poems from our childhood to each other. For a Child Named Katherine, by Louise Townsend Nicholl, was one of mine:

God and the Faires, be true, be true!
I am the child who waits for you.

I wait for God as I go to sleep.
I stretch out my hand for His hand to keep.
I look for Fairies where grass is deep,
And once where I heard a bell on the sheep.
The Saint who comes at Christmas-time
Is someway not so much all mine.
He surely comes, for Christmas Day,
But I never ask that Saint to stay.
He brings me beautiful things to keep,
But I liked the best the bell on the sheep.
God and the Fairies I cannot see
Are the ones that I want to stay with me.
They always stay with me through the night,
But they go just before the room is light.
It is always just God, or just Fairies, who stay,
But I never know which, nor which is away.
But once I awoke when it was dark
And something made me hush and hark.
My hand which I’d left outside the sheet
Was tucked very gently under my cheek,
So I knew it was God who stayed that night—
And then I slept till it was light,
And when my hand stays out on the bed,
I guess the Fairies are there instead.

I think the Fairies bring the dreams
And when I wake and my room seems
Very strange, because I’ve played
All the night in a woodsy glade
In my dreaming, then I know
Fairy folk have made it so—
Fairy folk who slide, they say,
Into the house on a thin moon’s ray.
But always something has been there,
To fill my room with Day and air
To make one feel so sweet and wise
Before I open up my eyes.
But sometimes when it’s bright and Day,
I feel alone and I must pray.
I am sure then and yet I say,
“God and the Fairies, be true, be true!
I am the child who waits for you.”

I still think it’s a beautiful poem! But what do you think? Would you worry that such a poem might confuse a young child about whether God is with them all the time, or whether He might sometimes delegate His watch care over them to “fairies”? The poem never made me think that way as a child. Probably because, after reading the poem to me, I remember my mother kneeling with me to say my prayers every night, so I trusted that God was always there, no matter how beautiful and sweet the words of this poem.

Example truly does speak louder than words, don’t you think? A parent who takes the time to kneel with their child and pray, establishes a firm foundation of “truth” vs “imagination”. That’s my experience and opinion, anyway. What’s yours?


  1. what a beautiful poem and tradition. I was born on December 5 so in my childhood that signified the beginning of the Christmas season instead of Thanksgiving which was a different sort of holiday. And I always celebrated my b'day with a big cup of chocolate. Still do. I think I'll add the poem and make a new/old tradition. Thanks.

  2. I agree...a beautiful poem and a wonderful tradition. Traditions are so important. And example does speak louder than words. Love your thoughts, Joyce. Thanks.

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  4. I'm just getting to this because I read everything except the poem when you first posted it because I was so busy with schoolwork and I knew I coudn't pay attention to such long poem right then (A.D.D.) so I just reread the entire post, poem and all, because there is no class on Fridays.

    I used to worry about this as a young mother but kids do a pretty good job of figuring out what's real... eventually. And while they're young, you want them to have an active imagination.

    And someitmes, it doesn't matter... at the moment... because BOTH can be true to them and it doesn't make a difference. I'll have to share an exchange my daughter had with my granddaughter ~

    My daughter, Mandy, asked her 4-year-old daughter, Jaci, what she learned in Primary. It went like this:

    Mom: What did you learn in primary today?
    Jaci: I don’t really know, Mom - the teacher talked the whole time about the cat in Cinderella.
    Mom: do you mean Lucifer?
    Jaci: Yes, Lucifer.
    Mom: Well, honey, that’s just another name for Satan.
    Jaci: Well, that makes sense because he’s a really mean cat!

    Either way, I think she gets the point. Pretty cute. Take care.


  5. Loved your story about Lucifer the cat, Stephanie! LOL! Thanks for sharing it with me.

  6. I have a beautiful, old copy of Silver Pennies in a place on honor in my book hutch. (It's blue with a silver fairy embossed on the cover. Is it the same edition as yours?) Anyway, thanks so much for reminding me to take it out and read it once again! I love that book. But the tradition? Too marvelous! Please share with us the roots that gave you wings some day when there's nothing else to blog about!


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