We’re protecting you from evil, they say. We’re keeping you safe, separate from the world. This place is better. This place is holiest.
You aren’t safe, though, you aren’t innocent. Here in yourself you find all the ways to sin. Here in the tower there are dirty hands and lying tongues. The evil, it’s not coming from out there. It’s not coming from the world. It’s here in your castle, here in your heart. But you never say a thing. Princesses cannot trip, and ladies never shout.
You are greedy for scenery; you watch for an unlocked window — its hinges creak but the breeze is sweet. But they reach around you, draw the curtains. That air will poison you.
They hear the song of sparrows and warn of sirens. They stuff your ears so you cannot hear, cover your eyes so you cannot see, bind your arms so you cannot reach. But you are worse off for the silence, worse off in the dark.
You’d think we’d have learned from fairytales. It’s easier to escape towers than stay enchanted in them.
It’s not a knight that saves you, or some wizard. It’s you, and the great bright world outside the tower.
When you sneak out under the stars, shoes soft on the earth, hood pulled low against the night, you think you won’t go far. But you pursue the forbidden, and find that fruit is good for you. You meet witches and werewolves, and recognize them as saints. You listen to strangers’ voices, and hear your story on their lips. You encounter heresy, and find it’s good news. You reach and feel and see and taste that the Lord is good, and so is his world. (Yes, it is broken, but not in all the ways they said.)
You keep going, further up and further out. The woods are dark and wild but sacred — magic in its roots, birdsong in the trees. The rivers run with wonder. The hills rise toward the sun.
Over your shoulder that tall tower still beckons, but the kingdom is wider than its walls; you will not trade freedom for safety. You are barefoot here, and climbing.
This land is foreign, but it’s holy ground.