In the world of Winter’s Tale, angels can appear in the form of magnificent white horses, humans each possess a “miracle” intended to change a life that they choose to freely give to one another, and souls become stars in the heavens. Mortals do not die until their miracle is spent, and demons live and thrive in the seedy underworld. Pearly Soames is the demonic overlord of New York City at the turn of the century, and becomes angry with one of his orphans, Peter Lake, because he has learned to take the ring without the finger! The pure-hearted Peter flees from the darkness Pearly intends to envelop him in, and runs straight into Beverly Lewis, who is dying of consumption. It is instant attraction that soon becomes true and lasting love. Pearly intends to stop Peter from being the “miracle” Beverly needs to survive her illness, but none of then anticipates the true design that ties them together.
Told as a “fable,” this story has many different elements of magic and spirituality, some pagan and others mindful of Christianity, but what truly struck me the first time I watched it is how profound it is in its profession that each life is magnificent; we are all worthy of someone crossing a century to save us, even if we are never the “savior” of anything. Pearly loathes the humans and their ability to become stars, to pass on love, light, and miracles, but he is so fixed on Peter that he fails to see true miracles in unexpected places. He anticipates that “the” miracle Peter possesses is meant for “someone important”; as we mortals are inclined to do, we too anticipate that this girl will “be someone” in the future… that Peter is saving the person who will one day cure cancer, or who is destined for greatness… but as Beverly illustrates in the final moments, the act of “doing” a great thing does not make a person great; each life has value and the most “unimportant” of us all is still worth saving.
There are many beautiful and touching elements to this story, but it always serves to remind me that the greatest of miracles are often those we cannot see; that our lives entwine together in ways we cannot imagine, and that while God makes us wait, His grand purpose is always in play… Peter thought his miracle was meant for one girl, when in reality it was intended for another. He thought he had a miracle to give, without realizing that he too is a miracle, in and of himself. Each of us has a unique purpose in life, a unique gift that is ours alone, to give and serve in a higher purpose. We can spend all our time focusing on how we believe our lives and gifts should go, and miss out on the more subtle and profound events of our lives.
What if we approached each day with the belief that we possess a miracle for someone we meet; what if we had that gift to pass on through an act of kindness, a listening ear, a gentle word? What if we could become part of the miracle? How might our life change? How might theirs? Might that love that is divine also survive the centuries?