“When I was a child I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I (grew up) I put away childish things.” 1 Corinthians 13:11.
I hope to take them out again.
When I was a child the days were long… I remember knowing I had the long, delicious, fascinating day ahead of me. I could run to the barn, sit on the stonewall counting cars with my brother, sit in the sun on the cellar door, chase the chicken, torment my sister. That was only the morning. I could have the best lunch. My favorite - Lipton’s Chicken Noodle Soup. I could play the piano and watch Captain Kangaroo on TV. My very big brother would come home. (I was impressed. A man of the world who could manfully go out and manfully return from Kindergarten.) I could play chess with my brother and fight about it, or marbles and fight about it, or play fireman, or go up in the big pile of sand that my father had dumped by the barn. We lost a box of army men in there. I still wonder where they are. I was given a musical bear and couldn't understand why my father was mad when I performed surgery to find out where the sound came from. (It was after all, my bear.) Then my grandma, the love of my life, would come home from the sewing factory. I could sit by the table and watch. Flour with a little well in the center into which she dropped egg yolks. Then came noodles. A miracle. Then my Dad would come home. Hooray! All six of us children would run to the door to be greeted and swung in the air. I remember the day… I took the sorrow bravely…philosophically…when I was told I was older than the others and too big to pick up.
What I remember are the days of wonder. I knew I was living in a miracle. I remember all my senses awake. My blanket had a satin edge. I held it to my cheek when I was falling asleep. This was not a little thing. I remember discovering that soft edge and loving the feel of it…how perfect… how necessary…. so good to fall asleep with my blanket. I remember the apple tree. I smelled it and the blossoms were awesome. And in play…. my brother and I went outside and came to our front door pretending to be other people. We fooled our mother. We really fooled her. And one spring I heard rumbling in the sky. Probably thunder. My mother said it was spring rolling round. Check. That made sense. Spring rolls around.
A baby was born in October, and we saw him just after he was born. So there he was - that little guy, the beginning of a person. His father sang a soft low song to him, a made up, simple song: “doo, dee doo dee doo dee doo.” He rooted toward the sound. He was nothing really… just a little hamster… but a magnet for wonder and love. We couldn’t stop looking at him, couldn’t stop holding him, our love pouring into him, making him human. I watched him when he decided to cry but had forgotten how to do it. His face turned red, he made all the crying faces and then he found his breath, his sound and then he cried and cried.
I say this because I’m trying to know the process of creation. I’m trying to see the things I can’t see because I’ve become immune to their wonder: the baby made, the child made, the world made.
It’s hard for me…as an adult… to say it and return and revise it again and again… and try and try and then oh hell, I just say it and those are the best things, the most direct, the most true…as simple as they actually are.
So there is something about a deliberate return to life as a child…when it just happened to me, through me, for me… there was no distance between the impulse to life and the life that I demonstrated in my body.
The foundation of making anything is trust… even if it is the trust of taking something for granted. I sit down to write with the beginning of an idea and an impulse… and then the thoughts form, the words come. I don’t know where it is going but it goes. I just start to drive. A turn comes and I take it, and that starts to shape a direction and then I take another turn and then another and then I’ve got something I can recognize and it begins to tell me what it is.
I talked to a friend this morning. She said the people who create things are wonderful. She said they have courage and energy. That made me think perhaps the act of creation itself gives the energy, and the courage comes, exactly in step. Each unfolding of creation is exactly the same as the edge of growing courage to be known. Some people I know are buried in snow. I know the life is in there. I want to help to dig them out. I want to dig myself out. There is always a little hunger and an impulse. We have to follow that impulse….even if we can barely feel it. If we do, it will feed itself, it will catch fire, do wondrous, unexpected things.
The Important Questions
How did he learn to cry?
Why do we love him when he can’t do anything, is so inconvenient, is not even funny, doesn’t know us, and won’t let anyone sleep?
What made the silly song his dad made up, made him turn his head, made his mother find his name?
What is the growing edge of anything?
The world breathes, moves, loves, comes, grows, gives and lives in the now and now.
How do I get close to that, get into that, despite the fact I’m already in deep, already breathed by it and carried inside it all day long?
I am alive.
How do I remember?
Again and again to
I’m already a child again. I’m not too big to feel, to be, to see, to say, to learn, to make, to wonder.