For the birthday of the “real Alice,” ReadTheSpirit asked author Jane Wells to reflect on how much this classic story still can teach us. After all, Jane herself is an expert on the spiritual power of fantasy—as you can see in the note at the end of this story. Here is …
Six Impossible Things
How Alice Liddell
Still Inspires Dreamers
By JANE WELLS
In honor of Alice Liddell’s 160th birthday on May 4 (see our official holiday story for more), I revisited the most recent movie inspired by the tale woven by a math professor to entertain three little girls during a boat ride. The 2010 movie version of Alice in Wonderland, directed by Tim Burton, finds Alice now 19 years old, facing pressure to marry a young man she can barely stand because it is the right thing to do. Her doting father had been a dreamer and a successful businessman. He would tell her that sometimes he would believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast. Unfortunately, his death and the influence of others in her life have drowned out his permission to act upon her dreams.
When a waistcoat-wearing rabbit draws her down a rabbit hole she begins a journey of self-discovery. Alice eventually draws up her own list of impossible things to believe, which includes, in the end, that she can slay the Jabberwocky.
Here are my six impossible things, as seen through the light of this fantastic film version:
Sometimes it takes a while but you can find the right door. Just like in the original novel, this Alice has to try a bunch of locked doors before she finds the little one that the key fits, and then go through frustrating rounds of shrinking and growing and shrinking again before she can get out of the “waiting room” and into Wonderland proper.
You can discover who you really are. Alice was fortunate to have a blue caterpillar obnoxious enough to call her stupid for not knowing herself. The rest of us waste a lot of time bumbling around before even thinking to ask ourselves this question.
You can regain what has been worn down in your journey so far—if you know what is missing. The Mad Hatter is disappointed when Alice refuses to take up the battle against the Red Queen. “You’re not the same as you were before. You were much muchier. You’ve lost your muchness…” He points at Alice’s chest, “in there, something is missing.”
This is your journey to determine. When the helpful hound Bayard tries to direct Alice to the White Queen, she rebels. “From the moment I fell down that rabbit hole, I’ve been told what I must do and who I must be,” she protests. “I’ve been shrunk, stretched, scratched and stuffed into a teapot! … I make the path!”
Becoming who we are is a process. The blue caterpillar demonstrates, “I said you are ‘not hardly’ Alice, but you’re much more her now. In fact, you’re almost Alice.”
The power that enrages and defeats our biggest enemy is not our own. When Alice walks onto the battlefield to take on the Jabberwocky, the monster says, “So, my old foe, we meet on the battlefield once again.”
Alice is confused and says, “We’ve never met.”
“Not you, insignificant bearer,” roars the Jabberwocky, “My ancient enemy the Vorpal one.”
What impossible things have you found to be true in your life?
Share them in the comments below.
Care to read Jane Wells’ book on spirituality in Twilight?
Her new book called Glitter in the Sun and is guaranteed to spark lively discussion in small groups, especially since a new Twilight movie debuts in the autumn of 2012. Plan ahead for a summer or fall series in your congregation with Jane, Twilight and Glitter.
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Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online magazine covering religion and cultural diversity.