Magic “C”

For in Christ all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible… all things have been created through him and for him. ~ John 17:22

A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P…  Oh, how I loved to sing the ABC song with my first-grade teacher Miss Byrd and my classmates. She introduced us to an endless world of letters, sounds, words, images, and stories.

Miss Byrd read us books about kids flying on magic carpets and traveling through time. She read tales about children with pet spiders and snakes. When Miss Byrd read, she painted pictures and we wanted to enter that colorful, enchanted world formed by letters, words, sentences, and stories.

Every day we practiced writing upper-case and lower-case letters on wide lined paper because we were going to be authors and draft stories someday. I loved the thick pencils we wrote with which were about as wide as a first grader’s pinky. Miss Byrd would show us how to draw a letter with a line or a curve. The complex letters were a combination of lines and curves.

I was partial to the capital letters, the bold lines and towering height; but, as I have grown up, I’ve learned to appreciate the subtleness and humility of small letters. In time, I learned that all the letters have equal value in the creation of stories.

Yet, I still lean into the letter “c.” It is a beautiful slow curve and I appreciate that it remains open not closed. The possibilities never end with a “c.” When I asked Jennifer, my wife, and a first-grade teacher about the letter “c,” she said, “Oh, I call it ‘Magic C’ when instructing the kids.” “Wow, this is better than I thought. Why is “c” magic?”

“Because “c” forms so many other letters. If you make an “a” you first draw a “c” and then a short straight line makes it an “a.” If you make a “d, g, o, or a q” you first make a “c.” It’s magic,” Jennifer said.

“The Magic C. I like that.”

I also like many words that start with the letter “c.” Clouds mesmerize me as much today as they did in the first grade. Who has not laid on their back and looked up at the clouds moving slowly across the sky? They carry our hopes and dreams and pull us from the confines of gravity to the freedom of the wind.

I love candy, Cheerios, cats, and checkers, but Christmas is one of the best “C” words of all. Miss Byrd read “Rudolf the Red Noised Reindeer” and “Frosty the Snowman” to us, but she also mixed in the story of Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus. Christmas was a time of joy, caroling, love, family, eggnog, and the birth of Jesus.

My Norman Rockwell images of Christmas held until Grandpa Paschal passed away and then Grandpa Pruitt. We lit candles at church for Christ our Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. As the light grew, so did the Words of Christmas. Hope grew from despair. Light shined in the darkness. Joy played with sadness. Love transforms hate.

As a little kid learning to write and to read, I did not know the power and the ambivalence of letters, words, images, and stories. The letter “c” brings us cotton candy and crime, cures and cancer, corn on the cob and catastrophes. “C” words are just as complex as life.

Christ is a “C” word. Jesus dies and Christ is risen. What is the difference?

Richard Rohr reflects, “The revelation of the Risen Christ as ubiquitous and eternal is clearly affirmed in the scriptures (Colossians 1, Ephesians 1, John 1, Hebrews 1). The Western Church gradually lost this profound understanding of how God has been liberating and loving all that is.” God’s grace is redeeming the world. Christ embraces and forgives the totality of our human experience. Christ holds and transforms the ambivalence of our lives and our world.

“What if Christ is a name for the immense spaciousness of all true love? What if Christ is a name for everything in its fullness?” asks Rohr.

Miss Bryd introduced me and so many children to the magic world of letters, words, and stories. I am forever thankful for her. Our Creator invites us into a sacred world where the Risen Christ is present “to unite and to reconcile all things in himself, everything in heaven and everything on earth” (Rohr translation of Colossians 1:19).

May we see and experience the love of Christ to transform us and the world, and may we walk in God’s grace. May we write and tell stories of a love that never ends.

Blessings and peace,