From Chapter 1 of The Last Unicorn:
Unicorns are immortal. It is their nature to live alone in one place: usually a forest where there is a pool clear enough for them to see themselves – for they are a little vain, knowing themselves to be the most beautiful creatures in all the world, and magic, besides. They mate very rarely, and no place is more enchanted than one where a unicorn has been born. The last time she had seen another unicorn, the young virgins who still came seeking her now and then had called to her in a different tongue; but then, she had no idea of months and years and centuries, or even of seasons. It was always spring in her forest, because she lived there, and she wandered all day among the great beech trees, keeping watch over the animals that lived in the ground and under bushes, in nests and caves, earths and treetops. Generation after generation, wolves and rabbits alike, they hunted and loved and had children and died, and as the unicorn did none of these things, she never grew tired of watching them.
One day it happened that two men with long bows rode through her forest, hunting for deer. The unicorn followed them, moving so warily that not even the horses knew she was near. The sight of men filled her with an old, slow, strange mixture of tenderness and terror. She never let one see her if she could help it, but she liked to watch them ride by and hear them talking.
“I mislike the feel of this forest,” the elder of the two hunters grumbled. “Creatures that live in a unicorn’s wood learn a little magic of their own in time, mainly concerned with disappearing. We’ll find no game here.”
“Unicorns are long gone,” the second man said. “If, indeed, they ever were. This is a forest like any other.”
(The hunters ultimately leave the forest empty handed.)
Here we have a wonderful description of a magical forest and the beautiful, immortal being that resides within it: the Unicorn. It is surrounded by trees, animals, and water that, simply due to the presence of the Unicorn, have themselves become magical. We are told, essentially, that whatever comes near the Unicorn cannot help but become magical itself.
Except, unfortunately, this does not appear to apply to humans. The two hunters enter the magical forest looking for deer because they need it to keep from going hungry. The older hunter still believes in magic, but it makes him uncomfortable. He is afraid of it. The younger hunter appears to have given up on magic altogether, saying that the forest is not magical, but simply “like any other.”
And so it is that this scene describes the truth within each one of us. We are that forest, and within each of us is a host of “ordinary” things: animals, plants, rivers, and rocks. But, also living within us is a magical, immortal being: our Inner Unicorn. Everything that comes near that Inner Unicorn is changed into something magical, gaining special powers beyond what is ordinary. And when our Inner Unicorn is allowed to roam free, our forest remains an a state of Eternal Spring, always full of life and beauty.
But, also within the forest of each of us is a hunter. Some of us have within us someone more like the older hunter: a part of us that knows deep down in our hearts that magic is real and alive, but we’re scared of it. We don’t understand it, and that makes us uncomfortable. Some of us have within us someone more like the younger hunter: we have given up on magic altogether, and we insist that the world is only full of the ordinary things we see every day.
When we allow either of these hunters inside of us to be in charge of finding our “food,” we miss out on all the true beauty of our magical forests. And we go hungry as well! This is similiar to the seeds in the Gospel of Matthew that fall anywhere but onto “good earth.” When that happens, the seed does not take root, or does not grow to be a strong tree that bears fruit. And with no fruit, everyone around us, ourselves included, goes hungry. But when we allow our Inner Unicorn to be in charge of our forest, we live in eternal spring, and the forest supplies all of our needs by magic!
We can see and feel this magic in our lives every day. But if we are scared of it, like the older hunter, the magic is no use to us. If we reject that magic exists, like the younger hunter, the magic is no use to us. And because we haven’t allowed this magic into our lives, we continue to go hungry, or even make fun of people who believe in magic.
But magic does exist. Just because we don’t see it clearly or understand it completely doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Magic is real. Like a tiny seed that can become a huge tree, magic is a part of our nature. It is simply the part of nature we haven’t become familiar with. It is the best part of nature. And when we deny this, we have not allowed the seeds that Christ has sown to take root in the good ground within us. So today, I say to you, let yourselves be good ground. Let yourselves be magical ground. And when you do that, just as Jesus did, you, too, will bear magical fruit.