by Kristin Fontaine
I was at Norwescon 40 Easter Weekend. The Science Guest of Honor was Ethan Siegel who is both a a theoretical astrophysicist and a costumer. I saw him in his “Neptune” costume on Friday of the convention and in his “Rainbow Dash” costume on Saturday.
Norwescon is an all-volunteer fan-run convention that has been going since 1977. I’ve been attending regularly since 2006 and went a few times in the 1980’s when I was in college. One of the best things about it is that it is full of ‘both/and’ people. Everyone there has a day job from baristas to, well astrophysicists. We are at the convention because something about Science Fiction and Fantasy media speaks to us on a deep level. For me it is the fundamental hope for a better future that was embedded in much of the science fiction I read as a teen combined with the wealth of creativity I see in the fan community.
Fans of all ages from toddlers to great-grandparents attend the four-day convention. Many (me among them) wear costumes they have made (or talked friends in to making for them). I love seeing what everyone has come up with.
One of my best moments of the convention was seeing Mr Siegel in his “Rainbow Dash”* complete with having dyed his beard rainbow hues. While he was walking through the convention I saw one child spot him and squeak excitedly “Mom, Look! It’s Rainbow Dash.” Less than 30 seconds later another child about age 6 came up to Mr Siegel and said: “Are you the science-man?” Mr Siegel said yes, he was. The second child said, in an solemn, passionate tone, “I love physics.”
In an instant, two children saw one man dressed as a make-believe pony in two different lights. They were both thrilled to see the embodiment of something they loved manifest before their eyes and their joy lit up the hallway around them.
The best thing was that the child that loved science was not disappointed that ‘science man’ was blue with a rainbow colored beard and the child who loved Rainbow Dash was not disappointed that Mr Siegel was also a human theoretical astrophysicist. In that moment he embodied the concept of ‘both/and’, enchanting two children (and many surrounding adults) simultaneously.
I don’t really know what this has to do with the scripture for Friday. The daily office readings didn’t speak to me this week. However, I do think that we all can get locked in certain roles in our lives and forget about other aspects of ourselves that need our care and attention.
Fear can play a part in locking down parts of ourselves. Some are rational fears– society isn’t always a very safe place for folks. Some are irrational fears– that we carry with us that none of our friends or loved ones would suspect because we mask those fears so well– but in masking them we lock away critical parts of ourselves that we need to be present in the world as Jesus would have us be.
Christ comes to tell us over and over that God does not want us to fear. God wants us to love. To love is to be vulnerable. To love is to put your tenderest self out in the world like a spring flower sending up fresh green shoots. Sometimes we will become beautiful daffodils and sometimes the deer will eat us.
But when we get that moment to flower, when the child comes up and says, in an awed voice: are you the science-man? or are you the beautiful pony? not only will our own heart fill with joy, but bystanders on all sides will be able to receive the joy of that moment of open vulnerably, and open a little more themselves to love.
* Rainbow Dash is a character in the animated series “My Little Pony, 2010”.
Image: Ethan Siegel
Kristin Fontaine is an itinerant Episcopalian, crafter, hobbyist, and unstoppable organizer of everything. Advent is her favorite season, but she thinks about the meaning of life and her relationship to God year-round. It all spills out in the essays she writes. She and her husband own Dailey Data Group, a statistical consulting company.