Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Observing the changes

Almost every night, I sit in Gareth's room until he falls asleep.  I've been doing this since he was a tiny boy, this ritual of waiting and listening and shushing.  When he was especially small I would nurse him till he dozed and then pat his back until he drifted deep in dreams.  Now I spend a lot of the time listening to last minute ruminations:

"Mommy, my friend is four.  Just like me!"
"Mommy, can I have some candy?"
"Mommy, Spiderman is the good guy and the Green Goblin is the bad guy."

I know that he is delaying sleep by trying to engage me in conversation, and usually my response is "okay honey, lay down."  But he has shifted his tactics and now each evening he slips out of bed and walks up to my chair and plaintively asks "Can I sit with you for a little bit?"  Sometimes I am irritated that he has gotten out of bed, but usually I scoop him up and hold him close.  Because really, how much longer can I expect my boy child to want to sit in my lap?  It's a bet that I lose by telling him no; soon he will stop asking all together.  

Everybody grows up.

Time (or, at least our perception of it) continues to flow unceasingly.  I was reminded of the swift passage of days two weeks ago, on Mother's Day.  My board chair commented: "This is probably a way better Mother's Day than last year!" and it took me a moment before I understood what he was referencing.  On Mother's Day of 2013, he had called me to tell me that the church had voted against calling me to be the pastor.  It was devastating.  And yet here I was, a year later, preaching in that selfsame congregation.  

Time passes and circumstances change and in some ways it seems as if I wake up to a brand new world everyday.  A baby who is now a boy; A 5yr Ordination anniversary; learning to tell people 
I'm in my 30's, not my 20's.  But, of course, it's not just the external world that changes.  Time passes and our inner life is transformed as well.  We learn the edges of our compassion and our hate; We discover the boundaries which preserve our sanity; We (hopefully) release timidity about the things we strongly believe.  

Everybody grows up, and that may be the goal.  That every so often we pause in our frenetic passage and glance back at the frothing wake behind us.  That every so often we pause and catalogue the errors and epiphanies and joys and sorrows that have blended together to pigment our souls.  That every so often we pause and take stock of ourselves and admit: I am not who I was. That every so often we pause and look forward to the horizons of our unknowable future days and ask: 

I wonder who I will be?

But for now, I indulge my son's delaying tactics and squeeze him briefly before I put him back in his bed.  And as he tumbles into sleep and breathes deeply, I mark the days that have passed him and the days that are coming.  I mark the days and give thanks that for now, I get to be there as he grows up.  And that he's still to young to realize he is witnessing me grow up as well.

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