The White Queen: I’m just one hundred and one, five months and a day.
Alice: I can’t believe that!
The White Queen: Can’t you? Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.
Alice: There’s no use trying. One can’t believe impossible things.
The White Queen: I daresay you haven’t had much practice. When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.
Mark 2:22: And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the wine would burst the wineskins, and the wine and the skins would both be lost. New wine calls for new wineskins.
6:32 am. I open my eyes and despair hovers like a hooded figure above me. I shut my eyes, pull the covers back over my head, curl my knees into my chest, but it’s too late—hope has drained right out of me and dread already settled in my chest.
This despair has become commonplace, chiseling away at my heart day after day, hollowing me out–the emptiness spread like a cancer through my soul.
Into the void, God speaks impossibilities: that I am bold and brave, that joy is my true essence, that there is good in my future. But I live as a shell of myself, with no substance within me to catch these words and no faith to believe these words could be true.
Without imaginal cells, a caterpillar could never become a butterfly. In its cocoon, the caterpillar digests its own cells, dissolving into a viscous substance. The imaginal cells, which carry the DNA of a butterfly, survive the digestive process and awaken out of dormancy. Initially, these cells are regarded as invaders and the caterpillar’s immune system attacks them. Feeding on the dissolved caterpillar mass, the imaginal cells multiply rapidly. They cluster and clump together, resonating at a new, common frequency. The result is a creature which has no structural similarity to its origin—and so a butterfly is born.
Sometimes I peer into my future and I am paralyzed by fear of what I can see. The image is murky, but I can feel the weight of it, the magnitude, and beauty. At times I fear the battles I will face and the losses I will suffer, but what I fear most is the possibility of success; it is the fear of becoming the person I will become, must become; it is the fear of becoming my best self.
Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland tells the story of a girl who had forgotten herself, tumbling into a strange land to fulfill an impossible prophecy. It was prophesied that Alice would return to “Underland” and use the Vorpal Sword to slay the Jabberwocky on the Frabjous Day, breaking the tyrannous rule of the Red Queen.
While the Frabjous Day fast approaches, Alice protests that she is the wrong Alice. Her friends seek to reconcile the old Alice with the Alice who stands before them: Absalom the caterpillar states that she is “not hardly” the right Alice, and the Mad Hatter comments: “You’re not the same as you were before. You were much more…muchier…you’ve lost your muchness.”
An encounter with Absalom spinning his cocoon triggers Alice’s memory and reintroduces Alice to her true self. With this revelation, she straps on her armor, takes up the Vorpal Sword, and, naming six impossible things, she slays the Jabberwocky.
Like Alice, I am not hardly myself. I lost my muchness. I no longer believe impossible things. When God speaks of what is to come, I object: I am not the right girl for the task. Yet he is persistent…and the day appointed comes fast and faster.
In the meantime, he has asked me to write about joy. Even this feels like impossibility—how can I write about joy if I have forgotten how it feels, if I am uncertain that joy can exist on the earth? But I know there is wisdom in this: to write about joy, I must imagine it, and if I can imagine it, perhaps I could find my way back.
But really this isn’t about joy at all. It’s about becoming the person I don’t believe I can become. It’s about becoming a person who can carry joy within me. I come to the place of surrender and what I must lay down is me—my full self, everything I think I am, everything I think I believe, everything I think I love. I am the live sacrifice bound to the altar.
I am the caterpillar spinning the cocoon, unafraid of letting my whole being dissolve. I am surrendering to the process of regeneration even on a cellular level; I am anticipating the new song my cells will sing.
I am becoming the beauty written in my DNA.
I am living impossibility into reality.