August 17, 2010

The Exciting and Wonderful Business of Being Alive

He had trouble falling asleep last night and bounded out of bed this morning.  Micah was made for academia.  "Do you think I'll learn how to read on my first day?" he asked me last week.  Knowing how excited and ready he is to go to kindergarten certainly makes things easier for me, but this one giant step from babyhood to childhood still plays tug of war in heart.  If growing up is good and natural, why does it burn and ache?

excuse the bed head

I tried to make this morning special, with "K" is for kindergarten pancakes and a fun photo session, but I mourned for yesterday, the last day before school began.  It's those last days that can slip from our minds.  I don't remember the last time I changed his diaper or the last day he crawled or the last day we had our "copy" together.  (He used to drink his milk on my lap every morning, but he called his drink coffee or "copy." For years any morning drink he had was coffee.)  Did I treasure the last while anticipating the first?

Micah and I have been together practically every day for his five years of life.  I have rocked him and kissed his boo boos and shushed away the nightmares.  This milestone seems to have come so quickly.  I miss hearing his chatter and his imaginary play.  I miss just knowing he's with me.  Who else can love him like I can?  

I sent him off with a Bible verse this morning.  I chose it to make him feel better, but it probably did me more good than him.  Joshua 1:9 says, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."  There is someone who loves him more than I can. 

When I'm tempted to hold him too tight rather than allow him incremental independence, a quotation from Madeline L'Engle's novel Meet the Austins reminds me about breathing in and out.  "We can't stop the road of time. We have to keep on going. And growing up is all part of it, the exciting and wonderful business of being alive."

I shed my tears.  I mourned the end of babyhood.  But perhaps part of it is a prideful mourning.  I'm mourning that he doesn't need me as much as he used to.  And there are so many things to be thankful for in this new chapter. 

   Precious time alone with sweet Corban

   Brothers who missed each other today.  They're sleeping in the same bed right now.

   A comfortable teacher, Mrs. Rhodes

   Arts & crafts presents at the end of the school day

   New friends

   A little boy who loves to learn new things

   A Heavenly Father who makes up for my earthly flaws

   The promise of the future

August 1, 2010

The Opposite of Love

Elie Wiesel, who translated darkness into words in his Holocaust memoir Night, once said, "The opposite of love is not hate; it's indifference." You have heard of the many who stood by, hungry for their own personal security, as millions of innocents shuffled helplessly into gas chambers.  Wiesel mentions some of them in his book.  He recalls marching with his fellow breathing corpses through German towns, watching the Nazi soldiers flirt with the girls who lived there, knowing those citizens witnessed injustice and stood by without a word.  Silence can murder.

Surely in this modern era, in the most prosperous country in the history of the world, we cannot be capable of such atrocities.  Surely not. 

Stroller wheels spin as I march into the mall on a mission. "Just two stores." I reassure my boys we won't be long. But a panicked face meets my eyes beside the 25% off jeans.  "Dominic!" she calls.  Silence.  "Are you OK?" I ask.  "I can't find my son.  He was just here.  Dominic!" I and one other lady sift through clothes racks straining for a glimpse of a yellow shirt.  We call security.  

A store full of consumers stare as they stand in line at the register and decide which color tank top they must have.  "What's wrong with you?" I want to scream.  "This is a little boy!  He's lost.  Why are you just standing there?  Help this mother!  Can't you see the terror in her eyes?"  But my dry throat and my own cowardice can't mouth the words.

I scan the kiosks outside the store.  Maybe someone saw him.  I ask each kiosk worker, "Have you seen a little boy.  He's five, this tall, wearing a yellow shirt." Nonchalant answers return to me as one worker paints her nails and another finishes his sandwich.  "This is a person!  Put yourself in this mother's shoes," my soul screams out, but I move on and search the food court, where I meet a security guard slowly strolling towards the frantic mother.  "Do you know there's a lost child?" I ask.  "Yeah, we found him," she carelessly replies.  They found him near the carousel.  Tears flow freely from the mother's face now that the crisis has passed.  

But the crisis of self-centeredness is rampant, attacking one heart after another, leaving its victims cold and indifferent.  It is not enough to simply not do bad stuff.  Avoiding harming others is not enough.  It is passive.  We must act, and we must act in love.  What can we do, what can I do, to avoid letting our lives be just about gaining security and peace for myself?  How can I make sure I am constantly aware of others' needs, of others' hurts, of our world's injustices?  And what am I going to do about it?