How Fairy Tales Open Doors to Authentic Spiritual Growth

by Sister Ruth Ann on July 5, 2010

Fairy Tales Open Door to Spirituality

Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Ruth Ann Myers, OSF, encourages the writing of fairy tales to open the door to authentic spiritual growth.

Just about everyone loves the fairy tale, and just about everyone loves the deeply spiritual person, that is the authentically spiritual person. We see this authenticity in the wholeness of Jesus who reveals to us the mysterious Transcendence of God. We are drawn to this Transcendence because we sense something of this within ourselves. The fairy tale helps us to imagine this SOMETHING, not yet present, but potentially possible. We begin to feel a little of the magic of who we are called to be with possibilities beyond what seem realizable.

Both the fairy tale and the Bible use images and symbols to take us beyond ourselves into the mystery of the Transcendent. Jesus tells us that he is the Light of the world and that we, too, are Light. The more we explore the natural light of the universe, the more we begin to sense a little of the magnificence of God and how awesome it is to participate in this Life/Light. Light transforms darkness into light, heals the wounded, brings warmth into the cold, gives energy to the weak, and transforms what is not yet into what is.

Entrance into the Kingdom requires us to overcome obstacles and rise above tragedy. So, too, in the fairy tale. The prince may have to slay the dragon to win the princess, quite an impossible task. But suddenly unexpected help comes, e.g. a miraculous sword puts the dragon to sleep.

We, too, may be faced with something so difficult, we think we can’t do it. We cannot forgive the person who has permanently harmed us, or give up the possessions that have become life for us, or turn away from immediate pleasures that block out the longer spiritual journey. All seems hopeless. Then unexpected help comes: a grace, an angel in human form, a book that inspires, heals, melts our heart.

In the fairy tale, all ends well and the prince and princess live happily ever after. So, too, with our spiritual journey. All ends well and everyone lives happily ever after.

The Gospels do not end with the crucifixion. They end with the Resurrection. So, too, our lives do not end with tragedy, not in a eternal sense. Instead, new life comes out of our death.

Write your own fairy tale. Put your life into symbolic language. Don’t forget the happy ending.

13 thoughts on “How Fairy Tales Open Doors to Authentic Spiritual Growth”

  1. Sister Anne says:

    Thank you, Sister Ruth Ann, for sharing your spiritual wisdom! In the midst of struggle and darkness it is easy to lose sight of the happy ending. As a follower of Jesus and His servant Francis, I need to always remember the “happy ending” because it is truly part of my life every moment. God lives within me and we live happily ever after!

  2. Thanks for this article Sister Ruth Ann, it brought me back to Robert Wick's book, “Riding the Dragon: 10 lessons for inner strength in challenging times.” Wicks' introduction is a quote by Margaret Mitchell, “Every problem has two handles. You can grab it by the handle of fear or the handle of hope.”

    You are always about going toward hope!

  3. Sister Ruth Ann, thanks for the spiritual encouragement. Flipping through a collection of Grimms (hardly glum, but formidible) Fairy Tales recently, I was caught up in the sound sense of these ageless stories. (Avatar's popularity also has this glint of searching for deeper truth.)

  4. Ruthannmyers says:

    Thanks so much, Sister Anne, for your affirming comment.

  5. Ruthannmyers says:

    Yes, the fairy tale, I feel, helps us to break through the ordinary to find the extraordinary potential of our life in God.

  6. Ruthannmyers says:

    I like Robert Wick's books, but I never read “Riding the Wagon.” Sounds good! Thanks for your comment.

  7. Sr. Monica, novice says:

    Sr. Ruth Ann, it is currently the lunch break of your Journal Workshop that you are leading, and I am getting a lot out of it! Thanks for sharing your wisdom! I just read your “Fairy Tale” entry now, and I think that it will be a great exercise to do after the retreat, to kind of put it all together. Thanks for the positive and true message that life is a fairy tale, God is our knight in shining armor who slays the dragon, and we all live happily ever after!

  8. Sister Chiara says:

    Sister Ruth Ann~

    Thank you for this wonderful entry. I plan on trying this exercise in the near future.
    Thank you also for your wonderful Journal workshop. It has been very helpful! God Bless you! 🙂

  9. Sjune says:

    Your reflections on the Fairy Tale, reminds me of the times that I attended your workshops on Journaling. It was always a rewarding experience. Thank you, Sister Ruth Ann for sharing your passion for Journaling.

  10. Sister Ruth Ann Myers says:

    Thanks, Sr. Monica, for your affirming message. In longer journal workshops, I have had them write their fairy tale in the workshop. One of the Sisters who wrote her fairy tale was Sister Rita Mae Suhr. If you see her, you might ask her about it. She is the sister of Karen Suhr on St. Rita's floor.
    Sr. Ruth Ann

  11. Sister Ruth Ann Myers says:

    Thanks, Sr. June. Yes, this approach to writing in a Journal has meant a lot to me, and I am always glad if other, too, find it valuable.

  12. Ruth Ann Myers says:

    Thanks, Sister Chiara. As I wrote to Sr. Monica, I have in the past in longer Journal workshops included writing a fairy tale. I have always been amazed at what people could write in such a short space of time. One I remember was Sister Rita Mae Suhr's. I'm sure she still has it and would be glad to read it back to her if you ask her.
    Sr. Ruth Ann

  13. Sr. Delores Wisnicky says:

    Thanks, Sr. Ruth Ann. I remember the journaling class with you and the awakening it did for me. I might have to try this type of writing again. It reminds me— All is well with God, we are not alone in this journey of life.

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