He loves fresh air, fallen leaves, the wind, the cement basketball court in the back and just about everything else outside. I imagine all babies are overwhelmed by this, the experience of earth. I don’t know, but every time a bird brushes past the window or the front door is opening up, light pouring down out across the planked wood floors, his blue eyes swell. He starts clapping. Kicking. Laughing like a chimp. And well, of course, the entire house drops to its’ knees in a heavy sigh. Spellbound by this tiny angel.
He is my first nephew, the first of the next generation of Mobergs, and he is objectively the most adorable child to ever crawl this earth. I, like every other member of our family, cannot get enough of him. I look at him and think like Rachel Green, looking down at her new baby in her basinet, whispering to Monica and Phoebe, “Right now. I miss her. I actually miss her.” And it’s the same feeling, I swear on it. I miss him even when I’m with him.
And maybe it has something to do with his rapid growth (he’s almost ONE) or maybe it’s the sudden shift of seasons. Spring is speeding up and as is routine, redeeming me from the winter version of myself. There is change in the air, fast and fleeting. And I can see it coming over him too.
The other evening, I took him for a walk in the stroller. The first time when it was just the two of us out there like that. We’ve only spent time between the four walls, beneath a strong roof, safely cocooned by every thing required in an emergency. And so, naturally, the cars seemed to come a bit faster than usual- aggressively fast. In my head, I kept thinking about my bad habit of turning my eyes to change the dial or check a text or a tweet, jolting back into focus by the screech of tire on curb. So quick! All this is to say, that walk was the most stress-inducing one of my life.
After we got to the park, we strolled beneath the large leafy trees and watched the geese scoot along the thinning ice, a round frame of shimmering water above the shore. I found a bench and took him out, propped his feet up on my thighs, face to smiling face.
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After stumbling upon three rocks arranged into sculpture in Hawaii, Barbara Brown Taylor reflected:
I looked at the three stones pointing straight up through the sky and wondered how I had forgotten that the whole world is the House of God.
Taylor, Barbara Brown (2009-03-06). An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith (Kindle Locations 179-180). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
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I struggle, sometimes, to assemble the right line of words in prayer, or any words at all. And sometimes I can find the best ones but it feels dishonest. As if I’m still hiding some unknown something. And if I am truthful, with you, there are moments I wonder if my prayers are heard at all. As if they don’t even matter. Waste of my breath and time.
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There is no printed prayer on my heart in this moment, just the view of his face up close, his head eclipsing the sun and the light caught in his hair, glowing as if it were a halo. I carry him over to a tree where he picks off the flaky bark, crushes it, drops it, peels away another and another. We sit back down on the bench and he crawls all over it, waves at the people passing by.
In the five-minute walk back, he is lost to asleep.
I am rolling toward the middle of my twenties, and I’m learning that maybe prayer is little less about talking and more about wakefulness. About seeing. About the light cascading through the trees and the scented gust of wind and the geese pecking away at the ice and the baby laughing in my lap and the sense that it is all so good. That it couldn’t possibly get better than this.