I’ve been Missing In Action around here for days and days (and days and days) because my family’s been ralphing. Puking. Vomiting up their guts. Hurling. Upchucking. Barfing. GAG.
I haven’t joined my family in illness, though, because a) I’ve decided never to get sick again (<— this is, of course, useless but it makes me feel proactive, so whatever), and b) I’ve been hiding out at work (you’re welcome, work friends!). Now, I THOUGHT I was coming down with it on Tuesday what with the overwhelming nausea that attacked that morning, but after I left home and could no longer hear the vociferous rumbling — the cacophonous thundering — of my husband and my teenage son praying to the porcelain god, I felt markedly better. Totally well, in fact, so, in addition to never getting sick again, I’ve also decided never to listen to anyone else do so, either; I have five kids, so that should work out well.
This week has been … a week. Busy and Messy. Like life, where it’s tricky, sometimes, to see the Beauty in the Busy and the Magic in the Mess. Sometimes, we just… can’t. Sometimes we’re just… tired. Sometimes it’s all Busy and Mess and we forget to even keep an eye out for More and Deeper and Brighter and Bigger and Lighter and Freer, you know? Which is why we need each other. To sit in the mud together, yes. To just lay down in the mess and look at the clouds and rest together, yes. But also to point out the Beauty. To whisper, “Psst… I see a little Magic over there.” And, “I’ll share the Magic I have so you can have some, too.”
That’s what my friend, Kim, did for me this week. My friend, Kim, who lost two family members in the last 6 months. My friend, Kim, who’s grieving the loss of her dad and the loss of her brother-in-law and trying to help her family grieve and remember and love each other well in the process. My friend, Kim, who has every reason to see the Mess right now and miss the Magic and the Mystery and the Magnificent. My friend, Kim, who saw Magic and Mystery and Magnificent anyway and shared them with me.
Kim sent me the message below after being with my eight-year-old kid at church on Ash Wednesday. Kim runs the church programs for our kids and had events planned for them this Wednesday like she does every week. The grown-ups, though, were participating in an Ash Wednesday service — a time for our small church family to prepare for Easter, to pray, to reflect, and to walk the Prayer Labyrinth together. To be clear, I was at a brew pub, drinking vanilla porter with my cousins, so I don’t count as “one of the grown-ups” in the last sentence, but preparation, prayer, reflection, and being together as a community come in different forms, so I’m OK with that.
It’s just that this story was a gift to me. A gift of Magic and Mystery. A gift of Magnificence. A gift of reflection. And no matter what you think about church (why, hello, HUGE Mess and Profound Magic) or about Faith and Doubt or about Jesus, I think there’s something here for all of us. Something valuable. Something precious. Something familiar. Something deeply essential to the way we live life and See each other and learn to listen to Love.
Enjoy, friends. And know I’m thinking of you and me and us, as we go around again.
Going Around Again
by Kim Boyd
He is Eight. He is a fiercely loyal, intelligent, kind Eight and as far as I know has been this way from the beginning. He wonders well with questions that rival the best of them, and he is patient beyond his years in waiting for the answer.
At least, this is what I know of him from being a part of his community. Recently I have had the honor to call him one of my People. He shows up, ready to be present in whatever is happening: play, worship, friendship, waiting.
Tonight the kids were doing their thing and playing in the gym. He found me next to the labyrinth, which was set up indoors for our Ash Wednesday gathered meeting. It was early and preparations for the service were happening around us.
“What is this for?”
“Why is it set up for today?”
“What is Ash Wednesday?”
“What is the ash part of Ash Wednesday?”
“Are we going to do the ash part tonight?”
“Can I do it too?”
Some were easy to answer. We crowd-sourced the room of pastors for the others. With certainty, he asked to skip kid programming for the night and join the adults for the service. “I like singing and quiet, too, so I think I’ll stay here.”
And he did.
I gave him plenty of outs, in case he felt trapped. He confidently answered, “No, I want to stay here” to each offer. There was singing and facilitated words, then the room quieted to give folks space to center and arrive to the queries. Those who wanted to took off their shoes to walk the labyrinth.
His shoes were already off. He was ready.
With confidence he joined the other travelers while they each walked their personal journey to the center, together. Some were many in years, one with a new babe, professionals, singles, tall, short, all in a messy mass going around the maze in prayerful contemplation.
Let me tell you how he walked.
He walked with certainty. He walked with kindness. He walked alongside.
He stepped out of the way. He bowed when others passed. He came up right behind and matched the steps of the one in front of him.
He made it to the center and paused, but not long, and then gracefully journeyed back out again and sat next to me.
I admit my face was wet with weeping. I want to walk like him, with certainty and kindness and alongside.
I want to bravely get so close to the one just ahead of me on the journey and watch their steps and copy them exactly. I want to be watching out for the ones heading the other direction and bow as I step aside to let them pass. I want to be confident in the process, in my steps and in those traveling alongside me.
The gift of his journey was not over, though. Just moments after he sat down, he got up and walked right over to begin it all over again.
He didn’t know that We Don’t Do That. We don’t start over a journey we already finished. We don’t do a worship exercise a second time. We don’t for all the reasons years and experience have taught us we don’t. It’s just that he didn’t know all that.
The music was still playing. Adults were still on the path. His shoes were still off. So he started again, and he walked with the same certainty, kindness, bowing, and matching.
But this time, there was more. In his barefoot steps there was a dance.
It was a subtle, non-distracting, reverent dance and the joy in the step could not be missed. He twirled a turn on a toe. He skipped this step, and then that step. His second journey around the crowded, messy maze was a dance.
I know that I am not ready yet, but someday, I want to walk the way this Eight walked: strong, kind, dancing.
Photo Credit: Darryl Brown
7 responses to “Going Around Again”
I am in tears (in public, btw) reading about your boy. Wow!
Great job Mom (& Dad)!
And I hope everyone feels better very, very soon.
God was there. And it was very good. All 4 of the major Gospels speak of Jesus telling us to approach Heaven, God, and Faith as children. Thank you (both) for sharing. I believe that we as adults put too many rules on things. If we would just put those rules away and be like children when it comes to faith, worship, and trust in God, we would be able to see God all around us. And like children, we would look at the world with a little more wonder and awe. Hey! That’s that Beauty and Magic! Oh, that’s what I’ve been missing in my messy, busy, muddy bog that I’ve been trudging through the last month.
Beth, thank you again, for saying the exact thing I need to read. You (and yours) are a blessed addition to my extended “family”.
I cried reading this. I cried because I spent Ash Wednesday service with my 8 year old son in the nursery, because we forgot to give him his meds and he was twitchy and anxious and out of control before the service even began. We made it to the second reading when I realized it wasn’t going to happen, we weren’t going to sit quietly together in prayer. I was so mad. At myself, for forgetting his meds. At God, for giving me a child who pushes all my buttons and is so freaking hard to parent sometimes. At him, for not being the kid who sat quietly. And I’ve been holding onto that anger and frustration and need to just let it go. Give it up for Lent. Be the parent I am with the kid I have. And it is so hard.
Laura – I needed to read your response more than I needed to read Beth’s post. I have a 7 year old that sounds much like your son. Thank you for your honesty…it’s good to know I’m not the only one who wrestles with those emotions on a regular basis. Good luck…my effort this Lent is to take care of myself better (get enough sleep, eat better, reconnect with friends) so that I am better able to “be the parent I am with the kid I have”. Sometimes he just takes up so much of my energy that I have nothing left to give myself or others…
Thanks. As a friend pointed out to me, part of being in the faith community is letting others share our burden. So the next time I am feeling this way I’m going to ask for help from those around me, so that I can get the self care that need.
Laura and Joan,
I’ve been where you are and a few things helped me to better understand my son and accept him for who he is. You may not think you have the time to read or research but you will start to see him differently. It’s tough to be them in our world and they can grow up to be strong willed and amazing young men but they can also have a much more difficult time if everything is negative in their life and they don’t know what to do.
I suggest getting the book Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. This book helped me to understand my son which gives an entirely different perspective of what’s going on.
Go to http://www.empowerinparents.com and sign up for their news letter. They have a program called Total Transformation which I also suggest but get it on eBay or used somehow because it’s expensive.
http://Www.celebratecalm.com also has some programs you can buy but they have a newsletter that is worth signing up for because it gives good examples and advice. They offer sales on the programs so don’t pay full price if you decide to buy it. Either way, the news letter is helpful.
Go to http://www.feingold.org and sign up for their news letter as well. They have a diet with amazing results for all different issues including ADHD. Again, the newsletter is good to get even if you don’t go for buying the diet as it has useful info and advice.
I had many days of feeling how you are both feeling and it felt like there were no answers. I thought the teachers would know and help me. I will say I did have a few amazing angels along the way but for the most part I was shocked and disappointed at how little teachers and administration knew about ADHD and how they handled his issues. I needed to be his advocate or he would not only have failed but had much more difficulty throughout his school years. I have a strong minded, strong willed, good hearted young man that’s still finding his way but I understand him better and he also understands himself better – which really did make for a better life for both of us. I look forward to what he will become as an adult but I’m pretty confident that he’ll do well whatever path he chooses.
Look for the good and make sure to point it out – no matter what it is – it will mean something to them. It will also help you to be seeing good among all the frustrTing battles you have – believe me, there’s good there – it’s just hard to see when you’re always tired and frustrated. Also, look to do some fun things together – it starts to be less and less because they’ll misbehave or you won’t have the patience – but you’ll cherish those times and have special memories. Find out what they really love to do – boredom is not good and usually when they stir up trouble. My son loved to read so if he didn’t want to sit in church, a book would have allowed me to appreciate the service while he quietly read. Silence was often a blessing in my house!
Best of luck ladies,
This is beautiful. Thank you.