Perhaps as a child you had the chicken pox
and your mother, to soothe you in your fever
or to help you fall asleep, came into your room
and read to you from some favorite book,
Charlotte’s Web or Little House on the Prairie,
a long story that she quietly took you through
until your eyes became magnets for your shuttering
lids and she saw your breathing go slow. And then
she read on, this time silently and to herself,
not because she didn’t know the story,
it seemed to her that there had never been a time
when she didn’t know this story—the young girl
and her benevolence, the young girl in her sod house—
but because she did not yet want to leave your side
though she knew there was nothing more
she could do for you. And you, not asleep but simply weak,
listened to her turn the pages, still feeling
the lamp warm against one cheek, knowing the shape
of the rocking chair’s shadow as it slid across
your chest. So that now, these many years later,
when you are clenched in the damp fist of a hospital bed,
or signing the papers that say you won’t love him anymore,
when you are bent at your son’s gravesite or haunted
by a war that makes you wake with the gun
cocked in your hand, you would like to believe
that such generosity comes from God, too,
who now, when you have the strength to ask, might begin
the story again, just as your mother would,
from the place where you have both left off.
~Keetje Kuipers “Prayer”
“Flung is too harsh a word for the rush of the world. Blown is more like it, but blown by a generous, unending breath.”
It isn’t possible. The five year old me who long ago had a sudden terrifying revelation that I would some day cease to walk this earth has become the almost sixty two year old me who is more terrified at the head long rush of life than of its end. The world hurtles through space and time at a pace that leaves me breathless. Throughout my sixty-plus years, I have felt flung all too frequently, bruised and weary from the hurry and hubbub. I need Someone to stop me for a moment, sit down and begin the story again with me, starting right where we left off.
Now comes several days of breathing space, a respite from routine. I’m lifted lighter, drifting where I’m blown, less weighted with the next thing to do and the next place to be.
Instead I can just be — always part of the story to be told. Be blown away unending. Blown by breath that loves, fills and nurtures, its generous promise hopeful and fulfilled.
The old me simply ceases to be. Blown away.
If only the five year old me could have known.