I now know the real Ayden.

But in May of ’98, when Quest for Camelot debuted in theaters, I only knew I wished I could be a part of that kind of story–even if it was ‘only a fairy tale’.

In Quest, Garrett is a hardhearted, demonstratively cynical, deeply pained, and radically withdrawn hermit who lives in the Forbidden Forest.

When a strange girl, Kayley, stumbles into his world with news that Excalibur has been lost in this very forest, he accepts the quest–minus Kayley.  Since she wants to go on the quest with him, he tries to lose her in the Forbidden Forest (not a very kind thing considering she could have been eaten alive by the monstrous plants that grow there).

He seek to push her out of his life with a warning song about the Forbidden Forest, a ballad, of the self-pitying sort.  He is in love with forbiddeness–reminding me of a girl I know who felt the same way in the summer of ’98, and for many, many months that followed.

. . . I embrace what others fear,
For you were not to roam
in this forgotten place,
Just the likes of me
are welcome here.

I’ve seen your world
with these very eyes,
Don’t come any closer,
don’t even try,
I’ve felt all the pain
and heard all the lies,
But in my world
there’s no compromise!
Like every tree stands on its own,
Reaching for the sky
I stand alone,
I share my world
with no one else . .
All by myself
I stand alone.

–from I Stand Alone, written by Carole Bayer-Sager, David Foster, and Steve Perry

Garrett is not merely alone.  He desires to be alone.  He works to stay alone.

As a child, Garrett wanted nothing more than to become a knight.  Not likely for a stable boy . . but possible.

But when a horse wounded him and he was blinded . . his dreams of knighthood slipped through his fingers.

Believing he would never be anything but a burden, he abandoned Camelot to live his ‘worthless’ life brooding in a dark wood.

He built his own world encapsulated inside a forbidden forest where no one else is allowed to come, a world guarded against future wounds–and any hint of risk-taking.  He is unapproachable, arrogant, and filled with contempt for anyone and anything that would try to broach his world.

It is the story of anyone who has been so embittered or so enraged that they wish to be disturbed no more–not even by love.

Garrett is almost hopeless.

Almost is an important word.

There is but one passage into the fortress he has built from the outside world.  That passage is–did you guess it?–Ayden.

Ayden is a beautiful, mysterious falcon.

Ayden is a beautiful, mysterious falcon who came to Garrett.

Ayden came to Garrett through the treacherous, uninhabitable wood.  He came and could not be persuaded to forsake the blind hermit.

Garrett named the falcon Ayden, clueless that this falcon he thinks of as ‘his’ is Silver Wings, Merlin’s own mighty bird, sent out for the very purpose of loving the unlovable Garrett.

Over time, Ayden has become Garrett’s trusted eyes.  Through Ayden’s warning cries from overhead an enemy, Garrett can identify the direction of danger and protect himself.  Ayden is deeply faithful to him through the long years of isolation, even though Garrett has nothing to give to the falcon, no reason to stay with him.

Why does Ayden stay?

You could say because it’s a fairy tale, and everyone knows that fairy tales aren’t true . . or you could say it’s because our fairy tales are often like shards of a mirror that reflect what we know, or long to know, about God.

Ayden opens Garrett’s world.  Garrett permits Kaylee’s unwelcome presence on the quest only because Ayden insists.  Ayden never leaves Garrett unprotected.  At all times, the mighty falcon–worth far more to the Kingdom than Garrett even if Garrett were a mighty knight and not a reclusive failure–is willing to give his life for Garrett’s.

Even when Garrett betrays the quest, refuses to leave the boundary of the Forbidden Forest, and turns back to his life of nothingness, Ayden follows, once again his one and only friend.  When even Kayley, who dearly loves Garrett, has given up on him, Ayden does not.  Ayden loves him even more.

Is this story recognizable to you?

Long before Ayden was first sketched on a story board, long before the tales of Camelot were first woven, infinitely long before even the first bird had taken flight, GOD was.

GOD had a plan.  He had a plan to make a world of the sort more beautiful than fairy tales can ever reach, even if they stand on their tippy toes.

The world GOD planned was so effuse with the beauty our eyes ache to see, so filled with the wonder our hearts scream for, so packed with the adventure our spirits ache to find, so engineered by the mystery we long to behold, so founded on the purpose we spend our who lives seeking, and so saturated with the love we desire at the core of our souls . . that the words Happily ever after could not possibly do it justice.

But, though this world started with Once upon a time, it would not end with happily ever after–not on its own.  The beauty, the wonder, the adventure, the mystery, the purpose, and the love were all bound to GOD.

But we broke with Him.

The remnants of beauty, wonder, adventure, mystery, purpose, and love He left for us in His mercy were warped, gnarled, ruined, and devoured by the monster of Sin that Adam and Eve let in our world through war against GOD.  By concession to evil (Adam) and deception of what evil really was (Eve), humanity fell.  And what tragedy would follow.

God could have thrown His cursed world into Hell and started anew.  He bore no fault, no responsibility, and no identification with our sin.  He could have righteously shook His head in shame at our failure and left us to our condemnation.  He could have created new creatures who would live in His love and not bring such unimaginable pain to Him.  He could have closed our story right then, threw it in the fire, and written another story, one with a people who would choose to make a different choice and refuse to betray Him.  No one could have blamed GOD if He’d done this.

But this He did not do.

Instead, He sent His Son–His one Son, His only Son into our forbidden world.  We would not recognize Him as the one Son of GOD.  He would be ‘only’ Jesus to us–a man from Galilee, a carpenter from Nazareth, a strange Rabbi.  But in courage He would stay with us until we killed Him.  In love He would give Himself up to be betrayed by us. And in tenderness He would come back from the grave where we put Him, not to strike vengeance on us, but to offer redemption to us.  And since that very day He has been giving us the gift of time–time to turn to Him, time to come up out of the Forbidden Forest and live in His Mighty Kingdom.

Every good and righteous thing we have ever tried to make-up in fairy tales points to the true story of Jesus Christ, Son of GOD.

Jesus is the real Ayden.

Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence. (Ephesians 3:12, NLT)

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. (Ephesians 3:16-19)


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