The Magic Cloak of Me
“Never go into the deep parts of the forest, for there are many dangers there and they will ensnare your soul.” — from Serafina and the Black Cloak
There is a delightful children’s book called Serafina and the Black Cloak. Written for readers 8 and up, the story revolves around a young girl named Serafina. She lives secretly with her father in the basement of the grand Vanderbilt mansion, better known as the Biltmore House, in Asheville, NC in the late 1800’s. Her father works at the Biltmore House as an equipment repairman and has been given lodging in the basement as part of his job; however, he keeps Serafina’s existence a secret because of her unusual characteristics. Serafina has strange amber eyes, a mane of streaked lion-like hair, and moves as gracefully and quietly as a cat. At night, she comes out of hiding, able to move freely as she hunts rats and other varmints — intruders — who might scare the guests of the Vanderbilts.
The novel is a spooky mystery thriller highlighting Serafina’s journey as she uncovers why the children of the Biltmore House are disappearing one by one. As the story unfolds, Serafina bumps into a mysterious man in a black cloak and discovers that he is kidnapping the unsuspecting children. Knowing she has to help them, Serafina’s hunt for the man in the black cloak leads her into the surrounding forest — the very forest she has been taught to fear. It is there she finds a key to her own magic and comes face to face with her darkest enemy and her deepest fear — discovering her own identity.
What a life theme that is for us all — to discover who we really are! From a very young age, many of us are encouraged to fit in, join the crowd, be like the others. We unconsciously pick up emotions, behaviors, thoughts, beliefs, and perspectives from family, church, society. After we’ve gathered all these components, we cloak ourselves with them and saunter out into the world. It is as if we say: “I have arrived! Here I am! Look at me!”
It is when we dare to look into our own scary forest that we begin to see ourselves accurately.
Yet the very “me” we look at in the mirror is often a caricature. We show up as clowns with painted faces, perpetually smiling, assuring others that we are doing just great! We nod our heads, give thumbs up, and even convince ourselves. At some point in our lives, though, we feel the contrast of who we thought we were and who we really are. Once that happens, the cloak of me that separates the two worlds starts to break down.
It is when we dare to look into our own scary forest that we begin to see ourselves accurately. It is then that we begin to gather up the parts of ourselves we’ve left behind, the parts that didn’t fit in. And in doing so, we weave a new magic cloak — one that fits us authentically, one that is our perfect size. The new cloak is magic, indeed, for it is transparent as we reveal ourselves in all our uniqueness to the world.
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