Some years ago I had a conversation with a man who thought that writing and editing fantasy books was a rather frivolous job for a grown woman like me. He wasn’t trying to be contentious, but he himself was a probation officer, working with troubled kids from the Indian reservation where he’d been raised. Day in, day out, he dealt in a concrete way with very concrete problems, well aware that his words and deeds could change young lives for good or ill.I argued that certain stories are also capable of changing lives, addressing some of the same problems and issues he confronted in his daily work: problems of poverty, violence and alienation, issues of culture, race, gender and class... Stories aren’t real, he told me shortly. They don’t feed a kid left home in an empty house. Or keep an abusive relative at bay. Or prevent an unloved child from finding ‘family’ in the nearest gang. Sometimes they do, I tried to argue. The right stories, read at the right time, can be as important as shelter or food. They can help us to escape calamity and heal us in its aftermath. He frowned, dismissing this foolishness, but his wife was more conciliatory. Write down the names of some books, she said. Maybe we’ll read them.I wrote some titles on a scrap of paper and the top three were by Charles de lint – for these are precisely the kind of tales that Charles tells better than anyone. The vital, necessary stories. The ones that can change and heal young lives. Stories that use the power of myth to speak truth to the human heart.Charles de Lint creates a magical world that’s not off in a distant Neverland but here and now and accessible, formed by the magic of friendship, art, community and social activism. Although most of his books have not been published specifically for adolescents and young adults, nonetheless young readers find them and embrace them with particular passion. I’ve long lost count of the number of times I’ve heard people from troubled backgrounds say that books by Charles saved them in their youth and kept them going.Recently I saw that parole officer again and I asked after his work. Gets harder every year, he said. Or maybe I’m just getting old. He stopped me as I turned to go. That writer? That Charles de Lint? My wife got me to read them books…. Sometimes I pass them to the kids.Do they like them? I asked him curiously.If I can get them to read, they do. I tell them: Stories are important. And then he looked at me and smiled.
Terri Windling
Just last week I was telling a dear friend how I'd rather not exist in a world where toxic thrives. There are so much enmity plaguing this creed, how we hurt others because we think our idea of faith is supreme, how our interpretation of knowledge is above theirs, how every little whisper we turn into a howl. We forget that only He knows. Our existence are but mysteries; who are we to scar, to burn, to leave marks, to solve this enigma for others, to play God.The Friday prayer sermon just this afternoon, spoke to me in such illuminating affirmations. Knowledge, especially in faith, is akin to Light. Light binds, not divides. We seek light not out of fear of the darkness but at a promise to gain clarity. This is our intimate journey, how we move towards that Light is ours to make. Like a blind man, like moths at night, a child yearning, just do not stand in their paths, my friend. Your forehead kisses the same Earth like they do, your knees bend the same curve and each night, your spine collapses just the same. Do not be the lips that question an arm sleeved with tattoos or hair uncovered by cloth or sins not yours, instead be lips that observes silence, kindness and always, prayers for all. I hope your heart does not make space for words like Kafir, infidel, shirk and instead be a room with gardens and an ocean of calmness. Even our Beloved won't be a judge for another being; Let GodYou seek knowledge not to draw boundaries between yourself and others, you seek for this overwhelming gravity of unknowing needs you to always be finding ways to be closer to Him. You seek knowledge to know Him not to make known to others. You have every right to continue seeking, to have your palms heavenwards every night begging to be illuminated. This is your deeper conversation, go on, just you and God.
Noor Iskandar
Looks like things are good, Day said casually. I’m happy for you.Things were better than good, baby. My mom was so happy to see me. She made me raisin bread and she even popped me in the head a few times when I told her I’d pissed you off. She wants to meet you real soon, sweetheart, God said breathlessly around all his excitement.I’m looking forward to it, Day said climbing in bed.Oh come on, Leo, you can’t still be mad at me. God huffed. When Day still didn’t speak, God threw his hands up in the air. Okay, fine. I shouldn’t have said what I said. I’m sorry all right. There. Does that make you happy now, or do I have to go out and by you some fuckin’ flowers and candy and shit? Stop acting like this. I had a good day, babe and I want to fuck you. God dropped his voice low.I have a headache and don’t feel like having sex…since you’re dating a bitch. Good night, Cashel. Day flicked the switch on the small lamp by his side of the bed putting them in total darkness. Day pulled the covers up on him and turned his back to God and willed himself to go to sleep.Day woke up before five a.m. and was pissed when he couldn’t go back to sleep. Although his back was to him, he could tell God was awake too by the way he was breathing. Day finally got sick of lying there and got out of bed. He slid his feet in his leather slippers and went downstairs. Day got the paper off the front step and went to the kitchen for coffee. He was in the den watching Food Network, sipping his second cup when he had an urge to go back upstairs and climb back in bed with God.This was bullshit. This was a stupid fight they were having and he wanted it over. Day was sure there would be real shit for them to fight about in the future, they didn’t need to waste time on crap like this. But still…Day didn’t move.
A. E. Via