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Posts Tagged ‘Children’

No, not I…the 2, about-to-be 3 year old. He graciously reminded me tonight of the importance of unwinding. Really unwinding. He reminds me that we must perpetually turn to children, the older we get, for advice on how to live. Really live. With the first child, scolding was the parenting du jour should he have attempted such a feat…with child #4…..well…I learned to take heed. You know, step back and contemplate….hmmm…well, isn’t kind of, er, funny? Go ahead, break into the chase, let him go squealing with delight, buck naked, round and round, catching him with laughter and direction to get into jammies….silly boy. I love you.

But I really wish you hadn’t have put four toothbrushes and one Mardi Gras cup in the toilet today. Luv ya anyway. Say, what happened when you tried to flush? Sorry I wasn’t there to find out with you. Bless Daddy.

Sometimes it takes a child to hold our hand and lead us precisely where we need to be. Children know freedom.

It was what our very country was founded upon.

We must constantly question and examine our beliefs, as the development of beliefs can be a fluid process throughout each life phase. A good, hard look at why we believe what we believe is good for the soul, and keeps us fresh. We become stagnant if we can no longer embrace the merits of our beliefs. Yet we cling so tightly sometimes to things that no longer make sense…

A conversation with “Common Sense:”

“He should not be allowed to run naked through the house. This is wrong.”

“And what could happen?

“Why, it’s not proper. It might make others want to run naked through the house.”

“And then what?”

“Well, then things would be out of control. They’d get the wrong message. One thing leads to another”

“What’s the wrong message?”

“That you can’t think that you can run naked through the house and it’s okay. There must be consequences.”

“And then what,? if not?”

“Ummmm… I dunno. It’s just wrong.”

“With whom? How?”

“Ummmmm..I dunno.”‘

“What harm does it do? I mean, does it serve a purpose for the runner? Do they get some benefit from it, something out of their system, sow their wild oats, then want to conform, or what? What’s going to happen if a little off-kilter happens? Doesn’t off-kilter behavior serve an ultimate purpose?”

“Well, I never thought about it.”

“Well, think about it. Is it so bad? You ever been off-kilter? What did you need to do to get right?”

‘Nuff said.

Sometimes, in all our adult wisdom, we completely miss the point of living.

When was the last time you ran naked through the house? Would the sky fall? Is it so bad?

Thanks, God, for freedom and laughter and children. It figures only the serpent could have made it so we had to wear fig leaves and toil, instead of having the childlike freedom of running naked through the house.

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Hey, God…

That a child brought me to You this morning was humbling. He had asked with such hope, as best as his broken speech could muster, to go to church. The squeaky creaks of the kneelers echoed in the old nineteenth century chapel. Departing from our usual place of attendance, he did not know what to do with the kneeler until he saw the rest of us kneel and pray. He eventually decided the long padded rail at our feet made for a far better place to sit down than in the pew, as this afforded him a more advantageous perspective of the stained glass windows and of the sensible shoes of the elderly lady kneeling in the pew in front of ours.

He did not mind that he could not take communion because he cannot digest solids; he was grateful to receive a special blessing at the railing instead. He was not disappointed to miss out on the regulation tea and crumpets later in the reception hall; he rather basked in the attention of the new people we met. It was always I who had to be the one to manage my sympathetic disappointments felt on his behalf, and in the end I realized that they were entirely mine, not his – he did not know disappointment of any sort very well. Once disappointments were properly attributed, owned and subsequently discarded on my behalf, it became so much easier to join him in his joy.

I remember the first time I felt the two, distinct and simultaneously contradicting anguishes, felt as a mother of a child with Down syndrome. He was only four days old, but already society by me was damned if they did, damned if they didn’t.

If people offered awkward pity, the urge was to blurt out, “Can’t you see we are the proud, happy parents of a healthy baby? He’s no different…he eats, sleeps and poops right on schedule with the rest of them! Why can’t you congratulate us and be joyful with us?”

If people offered standard congratulations and completely avoided acknowledging his diagnosis, the temptation was to say, “Do you have any idea what we’re going through? Our child is different! Why can’t you offer condolences and join us in our grief?”

It would be years later that I realized people were dealing with it in the various ways they knew best. And so was I, as I began to digest what it meant to be raising a child with special needs.

So it was through life, times when we tried in vain to squeeze the square peg into the round hole…it just never quite fit. And yet it was well worth trying, because we all learned things along the way, and it enriched him in ways he would not have experienced, had we not tried.

There were heartaches and joys in trying, but it was the trying that sharpened us all. There are no baseball pants that quite work for his build, but we got creative and he played…for part of a season, until he decided the outfield was meant for chasing his teammates to steal their ball caps to try to get them to chase him. I wept when we had to make the decision to bench him because he just didn’t get it.

The basketball hoop was a bit too high and he had to play on his little brother’s team with second graders, but the week before the end of the season, he sank his first hoop, unassisted. And I wept when the entire crowd erupted into cheers and gave him a standing ovation.

But the look of joy in his eyes was exactly the same whether he was bench-warming or ovation-bowing. He was happy just to be included, even though he knew he was different and couldn’t quite master it like his peers did. He took joy in the process, not in the outcome. Perhaps it is us who, at times, just don’t get it.

He knows how to smell the roses along the way. Those joyful eyes see things differently.

So when society wonders if a challenged person should be treated differently or the same, the answer is, some of each…the same, as much as they are capable of; differently, to accommodate and adapt as much as needed to allow them to experience at least part of the process. It doesn’t take much to make them happy, and they understand more than we think. They have learned to be flexible and patient with others, out of necessity.

What kind of world would this be if we all saw life through those joyful eyes?

God, why do they say that 90% of all babies who test positive for Down syndrome in that new, first blood test, are aborted?

Let us not fear the salty tears of anguish which lead to the sweetest tears of joy!

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Clouds Dancing

Hey, God…

So the tiny child stopped me in my mental tracks, as I was wandering in the wilderness of busy-ness, with one, simple observation: “Clouds dancing! See? Clouds dancing!” He pointed excitedly to the sky, where my eyes were drawn by his little finger, and I beheld the world through his eyes for a moment, echoing his mirthful wonder.

What priceless delight and repose can be found by pausing from our busy schedule to catch a slice of the busy schedule of the universe! Indeed, like graceful dancers with flowing robes skimming across the sky, the clouds did dance, and we got to watch. Blowing, wisping, merging, billowing, parting. They invite the mind to wander…to imagine…to marvel. It must be like Heaven, to know our seemingly small but important part in the grand scheme of things, but to be invited to fully enjoy the beauty and majesty of things greater than us.

Why does it always seem to take one who is smaller, younger, weaker or somehow lesser than we, to humble us in our tracks and draw our attention to where it should have been all along? Only You could be behind such a feat, Lord!

Come sit with me here by the sea and lets watch the clouds dancing!

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Hey, God…

Today I read about a new drug that is showing promise in helping to “cure” Down syndrome. Do we really want to change those things that have been made perfect in Your image? You have said that our wisdom is but foolishness…and indeed, one can see the beauty and love in the face of any child with Downs, Your beauty, Your love. In weakness is Your strength, and many people have come to You through weaker people, as You touch us through them. They humble us, they teach us, they remind us of our priorities.

If people with disabilities did not exist, how would we learn and be humbled? What, then, would the order of our priorities be?

It is touted as scientific breakthrough, but at what point do we restrain ourselves from assuming we know what is best for another creation, just because they are different? Are we projecting our own fears upon them by thinking they must be suffering, when they may actually be perfectly content?

How can we possibly judge another’s perception of their quality of life?

Or are such “cures” merely for our convenience, to allay our fears and insecurities about suffering?

I am reminded of my food allergies, one of which is shellfish (ironically, despite my love of the sea). When others learn that I cannot eat, say, shrimp, I am inundated with expressions of pity and presumption, such as, “Oh, you poor thing! How awful for you! I bet that must be so hard not to be ABLE to eat shrimp!!!”

I don’t think of it as a disability…since the only shrimp I have tasted has caused such trauma and discomfort, I do not yearn for it; I am perfectly happy without it. It is not a pleasant thing for me to regret and miss, since I have not walked on the side of enjoying it. I am blissfully ignorant of the experience, thank you very much, and am perfectly happy with the rest of my diet.

Could it be the same for some others with certain disabilities, that they are entirely complete and fulfilled in the way they have been wonderfully made? Should we not carefully consider what projections we may have when we seek to “help” others and find cures?

Too, suffering has its place. It is not often sought, nor is it bearable many times…yet it blesses with gifts such as perseverance, tolerance, new coping skills, heightened sensory perception and deeper insight into others’ character and virtue, as well as our own. We find out quickly who our friends are, in our suffering.

Here on the seashore, I find broken shells, some of which are absolutely more interesting and beautiful than had they remained wholly intact. In the broken shells, you can see what they’re made of, you can see farther into them, you can see things you can’t see in their unbroken state. They are like snowflakes, each one entirely different from any other….a beautifully abstract medium that begs the imagination to fill in the spaces of its journey, its life, its purpose. The broken shell forces us to focus on those things outside our comfort zones, stretching and molding and growing us in ways we had not considered before. It demands that we pick it up and focus on it, instead of ourselves, instead of on the ideal, instead of on the perfect. Do we toss it back into the sea because it does not meet our standards?

God, may we have wisdom about and sensitivity to Your will. May we have the courage and zeal to embrace those things which we deem as difficult, painful and imperfect. May we resist the temptation to tamper with that which You have willed.

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Flexibly Grateful

Hey, God….

So the maintenance dude shows up this morning to install the blinds I requested (but in the wrong color: “Sorry, this was all they had for this size…”) in my new office. Somehow he knew nothing about the hot tub supposedly going into the  adjoining mystery closet that nobody’s opened in months, perhaps because no one’s really sure if it’s legend or fact that there is a sink with possibly-functioning-plumbing buried under the years of forgotten items behind that creepy door, and because he was accustomed to my sense of humor. I very much look forward to opening that door when I am in a peak purging mode, and exploring the possibilities. Evidently a hot tub was not one of the possibilities envisioned by my superiors. Eh, well…I am grateful for the pleasantly bright office with the restful view, much less and not to mention having a job. I especially thank you for that, God.

(Oh, my dear friend in the beach chair next to me…I have not told you what I do! I work and play with Very Upset Children. Some of them are angry. Some of them are haunted. All of them are precious. I have worked to mend broken souls for many years.)

God, I pray for the children I am leaving behind, for each of them to grow and succeed with my replacement, and I pray for the new ones You’ve entrusted to me. Thank You that I will be close, that I can still watch my former charges evolve daily as I tackle these new challenges. Give me wisdom and humility, as You have always taught me the biggest of lessons through the littlest of people. I also pray for the team in the trenches with these children day and night: give them strength, courage and insight as they help transform these betrayed souls into what society expects.

Thank you for making me move my beach chair to another spot; I was enjoying getting my feet wet with the rising tide in this spot – the water was warm and lulling – but I suppose it’s time to gather up my energy and submit to yet another dance with flexibility, lest my limbs fall asleep, getting relaxed and comfy where I was.

In the meantime, I will prepare for this change with the interlude of an absence. I hate leaving this seashore for any time, but again, change is good. I will look forward to being rocked to sleep by the rhythm of the rails once again, for the rails are deep in my blood. Nonetheless, I do not like being carried away from here, but isn’t perspective only gained once one stands back for a time? But how will I ever hear You above the din of the rails and then of the city? How I will long for the peaceful, familiar sounds of the sea!

But away I must go, with mixed regret and anticipation, and I will look forward to plopping back down in my chair here on the beach with You soon. Save me a seat, God, and please move my chair if the tide gets too high again while I’m gone. Just flag me down and show me where You put it when I come back, so I know where to go. And I will return refreshed and flexibly grateful for blinds of any color, and I will set about to conquer the legend of the buried sink. And we’ll mend some more souls together, You and me.

 

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Hey, God….

So what’s up with dreams? Do You control the programming on those channels, or when You designed our brains, You just sort of set things in motion and let ’em spin? What a mystery.

Moments ago I was in some surreal world…a freeflowing puppet starring in some other-planetary production in which I was among the cast of characters. I evidently knew all my lines, but it wasn’t me knowing them. I was both audience and thespian, simultaneously. What marvelous capacities You designed us with…and with such limitations, all the necessary harnesses built in. I awake and cannot grasp the fading dreamscape; it haunts and teases me, making sure I remember it’s there somewhere within my being, yet I cannot access it at will. You remind me that You have made us with things even we cannot comprehend and control. That in the end, it really does boil down to You and Your will. So why do we fight that most of our lives, even when we think we’re being or acting close to You, and why do we not just succumb to Your will sooner? How can we ever think we can know all things, when there are things we cannot know (and deep down, we know that we cannot know)?

Why isn’t it easier to choose Your will?

Stubborn, foolish little creatures we are!

So here I sit with You and my coffee on the beach chair, watching the sun rise, hoping the humidity isn’t frying the laptop. What a glorious day You have made. Awesome birds chirping and singing, Lord. Do birds have dreams, too? I love the mix of cicadas and crickets, too. The crickets, wrapping up their nighttime symphony and fading into to rising light of day…the regular cicadas, slowly warming up their chorus and reaching a feverish crescendo up in the trees, and then their relatives, the other group which prides itself on rhythm, the steady bzz-bzz-bzz-bzz-bzz that lends itself to comfortable predictability and reminding me what part of the planet I currently occupy.

And the rest of this part of the planet is sitting in church just about now, and derelict me sitting here (as I cannot hear You as well when I’m surrounded by man-made noise), enjoying You all to myself (and all You have made). Thank You for the serenity of this morning. Thank You for answering some of my questions, and allowing me to wonder about others. For if there was no wonder, to whom would we turn? Some questions demand to remain unanswered and unknown, for they are usually spoiled in one way or another when we try to ascribe our version of an answer to them.

I do not know why I am drawn to the seashore, but You have provided the elements with which I can joyfully dig in the sand, get my hands all goopy and messy, and fill that pail with my little shovel. I don’t understand why this is the sequence of things,but it is right and good, and one’s soul knows it. I might get biffed by a wave as the tide rises, but this just adds to the elements going into my pail and makes it a better sand castle when I dump the whole thing upside down. I am only vaguely aware of the fresh scent of the sea breeze giving life to my endeavors in the pail, but it fuels me along with the happy sun, and all is well.

It is then good, I conclude, to remain as a child: perceiving the world as a dreamscape (with dreams as real and true as waking moments), taking innocent comfort in blurred realities, doing what a child is supposed to do without adopting unnecessary worries…and ever remaining filled with wonder.

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