Toddlers and Truth

One of our sisters believes we’d be a lot better off with toddlers running around the convent.  Other sisters look at her in horror when she sighs like that.  Yesterday a little girl coming out of the Melrose School pointed to this sister and said, “Mommy, Look!   A Grandma!”  Our sister beamed all day.  She is, in fact, a grandmother of three and misses terribly “her babies” living far away across the country.

Bill just became a happy grandpa.  I don’t have grandchildren yet, but I feel the grandmother hormones erupt when I see certain children.  I amuse myself composing long nonsense songs for my children’s not-yet-conceived children.  I understand our sister’s sense of longing and loss.  The most endlessly fascinating part of my life was playing with, observing, and just generally being enthralled by my own four children.  I still miss each of them from each childhood age.  So I miss them exponentially, four times however many ages.  However, I don’t possess any unrealistic maternal after-glow or a selective memory of how difficult and exhausting and heartbreaking it was to be their mother.

ChristBlessingTheChildrenMaesNicolaes1652-53CROP2When I found the Nicholaes Maes painting I used on the Edge of Enclosure website this week, I laughed aloud.  The child in the foreground enchanted me.  The hand of the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Light, the Word, the Good Shepherd, the Gate, the Resurrection and the Life, The Paschal Lamb, son of the Queen of Heaven, Mother of God, Ivory Tower, Ark of the Covenant, rests upon her head. 

Her mother dressed the child up in Sunday best clothes and fussy little church offering purse for the occasion.  Nevertheless, at this supreme sacramental once-to-every-man-and-nation moment, the child’s uncompromising distraction lures her from the event at hand toward something glittering beyond our view.

Yes!  And look at the child in the background, thrust toward Jesus, but going limp in protest.  Yes!  Finally, an unsentimental look at children and the child as symbol of  innocence and spontaneity.

Well, I simply loved that child because she’s me at prayer.  Every day.  Toddlers keep you honest. 

Here’s my Saturday Morning prayer, after keeping the child in the Maes painting in my mind this week.  ( When I refer to the “Chicken Parade” it means this: Bill opens St. Eggburt’s House in the morning and the chickens jump out one at a time by rank, first the eight matronly Black Stars, and then the flock of nine adolescent golden brown Red Stars.  They stretch their wings and run to the corn, clucking amongst themselves and hastily get to work scratching up the night’s offering of grubs and worms.  I love the morning chicken parade.)

Saturday Morning Prayer

I’m empty.  I’m hungry.  I love this quiet early in the dark of the morning.  No noise from the road or school or house.  The clattering rain abruptly stopped.  Now, only the invasive sound of my quiet keyboard, padding, like a guilty cat sneaking across the counter-top.

I hiccup twice.  The de-humidifier kicks in.  Soon the windows will brighten, Bill will get up, the microwave will roar, the toaster ping, the scent of cinnamon and English muffins ascend the stair, the dog’s long nails clacking along the floor overcoming her age in her quest for crumbs and attention.  The chicken parade will thrill me for a moment and soon the traffic will speed along the road.  My brain will distract me.  I’ll know NPR news is on and I’ll want to take it in – after all I might need to know something.  My mind will sound like the chicken parade and the microwave and the dog’s long nails on the wood floor and Weekend Edition Saturday. 

O Holy One!  Do not abandon me to my distractions.  I love your chivalry, but I’m mesmerized by the glamour of the crowd and ‘thralled to the contests, and I somehow overlook your gentle hand, reaching for a token of my love.

Chrsit Blessing the Children, Nichoaes Maes, 1652-53

Chrsit Blessing the Children, Nichoaes Maes, 1652-53

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One Response to “Toddlers and Truth”

  1. Deb Blakley Says:

    I loved it! I work with little children every day and you are so right: they are not impressed with things or people. They live only in this moment, regardless. I also have chickens and love the morning parade, just as you do. What a hoot! People say I am obsessed with my girls but they are so much fun to watch and listen to. What personalities! Thanks for you blog. It gives me great joy. Come and visit mine if you like:
    It just needs a google username and password for some reason. I don’t know why.

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