About the time Disney released its live-action Cinderella I became fascinated with the archetype of the fairy godmother.  Soon she joined the “pantheon”, if you will, of my most beloved Disney characters.  I even bought a Funko Pop! Disney Fairy Godmother and placed it on the plate rack above the front door in my house.

Fairy Godmother is not just some old woman with magic.  She is the figure who sees the real Cinderella under the ashes and rags and helps the young woman realize her inner beauty and so come into herself.  That is, Fairy Godmother takes what is hidden in a young person and helps make it manifest.

Copying the first chapter of The Hobbit earlier this week, I realized that Gandalf is, in many ways, Bilbo’s “Fairy Godmother”.  “There is a lot more in” Bilbo Baggins, he says, scowling at Gloin for doubting the hobbit, “than you can guess, and a deal more than he has any idea of himself.  You may (possibly) all live to thank me yet.”  (Emphasis added.)

And by choosing Bilbo to join Thorin and his fellow dwarves on their request, the wizard allows that once “respectable” hobbit to come into himself, something he couldn’t have done had he stayed home in his hole by the warm and comforting hearth.

Just as Fairy Godmother sees the hidden beauty in Cinderella so does Gandalf see the hidden potential in Bilbo Baggins.  Each wise elder sees what others miss. Each helps their charge find a way into the world.