Today we are delighted to welcome Glenn McCarty to the SW team as a regular contributor. He’s written so many lovely things here in the past and we’ve talked him into doing that on a regular basis. Welcome, Glenn! We’re grateful to have you with us. This post is a great example of why. –Sam
There’s a spot halfway through my morning drive when I crest the hill at Doran Road and the sun bobs on the edge of the horizon, spilling its orange glow across the top of the corn stalks in the field to my left.
On those days when I manage to tear my eyes away from the road ahead of me, I catch a truly awesome sight – the sky, sun, and field aligned in such a way that the wispy tassels on the corn stalks seem to radiate a light of their own kindling. The field stretches out, hundreds of stalks in neat rows, under a sky with the beginning wisps of cirrus clouds. I catch my breath, captivated by the sudden whispering of beauty on a routine commute.
When I do, I inevitably think, How have I not seen this before? Is it like this every day?
So this one’s about forgetting, I suppose. And, occasionally, remembering.
We are surrounded by a staggering, incomprehensible amount of wonders. And not just the Niagara Falls kind, either. Rich Mullins paid homage to “the fury of a pheasant’s wing.” I believe you could add to that list the soft breathing of a sleeping daughter or the sweaty hug of a proud, soccer-playing son.
One morning, I crested the same hill (it’s a good hill), and noticed a cloud above the road, plump as a cotton ball, its top half glowing rose-pink in the dawn like a watercolor painting. I slowed and craned my neck to take it in. As I passed below it, I noticed the bottom, shaded charcoal-black, as if someone had taken a grease pencil to the beauty of the upper half.
Isn’t that like life? One minute I’m sitting beside my son at the piano watching with rapture while he confidently plunks out the notes to the four-measure piece he’s been practicing for a week. The next, I’m sitting him on the chair in the corner – yes, that chair – and explaining for the umpteenth time why biting doesn’t solve anyone’s problems.
Duality. It’ll get you every time.
So, yes, I should become comfortable with the nature of the parenting roller coaster. But there’s something else here. I can’t shake the feeling that I’m flying past dozens of holy moments at 60 miles an hour, eyes glued to the yellow line, nails bitten to the quick as my head spins with a to-do list a mile long.
Madeline L’Engle says,
In art, either as creators of participators, we are helped to remember some of the glorious things we have forgotten, and some of the terrible things we are asked to endure, we who are children of God by adoption and grace.”
“Tune my heart to sing thy praise,” goes the old hymn. “Listen,” urges Frederick Buechner:
Your life is happening. There is no chance thing through which God cannot speak – even the walk from the house to the garage that you have walked ten thousand times before. He speaks, and the words he speaks are incarnate in the flesh and blood of ourselves and of our own footsore and sacred journeys.”
The same cloud that looks a smudge of darkness and shadow from one angle proves a delicate rose-pink from another. My children will encounter dozens of obstacles each day, little clouds, as it were, moments where they must decide whether to see the smudge or see the rose.
The challenge for me is to depict the Kingdom so vividly that they are tuned, as it were, to see the wonder. That they can look beyond the temporal and see the eternal, glimpsing the Kingdom like pinpricks of starlight against the black curtain of night.
Yes, we are frail creatures of dust, and yes, as L’Engle goes on to say,
One of the great sorrows which came to human beings when Adam and Eve left the Garden was the loss of memory, memory of all that God’s children are meant to be.”
We are wandering. But we are not lost. We are written into a grand story. And as parents, it’s our calling to remind our children, to help them see, and listen, and most of all, to remember.
Featured image by Paul Boekell