Sometimes, the things that happen in our house are just too complicated to explain.
Guess who had a birthday today?
David turned eleven.
I can hardly believe it.
Seems like just yesterday, I was laying on the couch, eating Cheetos and Oreos, processing the fact that I was going to have another baby. Number five.
The timing didn’t seem right, but boy, was I surprised. David has brought such joy to our family, and a unique tenderness to me.
His talents are ever-increasing and surprising. He is fiercely loyal. He is a quiet kid, with a deep, thoughtful heart.
It is our family tradition to allow the birthday boy or girl to choose their favorite food for dinner. Each kid has some sort of special request; frankly, most of them choose to go to Grandma’s house (because NOBODY cooks like Grandma cooks…) When I asked David what he wanted this year, he replied, “I would like a selection of my favorite meats. Bacon. Pork chops. And steak. Oh, and some macaroni and cheese.”
The boy knows what he likes.
We settled on ONE meat – steak – and Grandma’s homemade mac and cheese. It was a good time.
I wrote the following about four years ago. Four years ago my life was so completely different (Wasn’t yours? Just stop a minute and think about what you were up to in the spring of 2006…)
The best epiphanies just rise up out of the mundane and surprise you with brightness and a sort of holiness that exudes mystery. One just caught me and left me weeping, incapable of anything but a mantra of ‘thank you, Jesus…thank you, Jesus…thank you, Jesus…’
Watching through the window as my boys waited for the arrival of the school bus, I saw David kicking gravel from the driveway into the street. His little 6-year old leg swung hard, heaved towards the rocks and shot a chunk or two across the street to the neighbor’s ditch. He’d kick, glance both ways, then run across to fetch the rock and kick again. Sometimes, as he ran back, he’d spin around, or jump, or fling his arms up into the air. Typical child-like play, swinging at the wind, making fun out of simple things.
And it broke me, his spinning and jumping and leaping, coupled with his prayer last night that he would have four legs so that he could run around the track at school as fast as Philip. He smiled and carefully explained to me how he could use two legs until they got tired, then switch to his extra legs. This seems to him a real possibility.
Things like this were so common with my other kids – the innocence and joy of childhood that carried each one of them through those early years. It is unique with David, though, for he has experienced a different life. Where the girls and Daniel all had the fairytale ‘happy childhood’ in their younger years, with two parents and little conflict, David got a different story. David’s third year of life was in an atmosphere of arguments and conflict, shouting and frustration, the television as a lousy substitute for parents who could not give the attention he needed, and, ultimately, a huge upheaval in his life. Separation, different houses, confusion and fear. David has lived a completely different life, and it has stained his soul.
It’s been obvious to me, in this last year. The impact of our implosion and divorce was huge on David. He has struggled, and shied away from people and relationships. There has been no awe in him, no anticipation of the love and happiness and possibility of life. A huge uncertainty has characterized his personality, and it has stymied and saddened me.
Lately, though, I have seen a beautiful thing…hints of joy within him. He is smiling and laughing more, and imagining a greater world than what exists. Hope has returned to my child, I think, on the wings of angels who invite him to play and run faster and in the constant, gentle hand of Jesus, who has never stopped inviting him to kick rocks and play with Him.
David was only six then. Today he is ten years old.
I look up at your macro-skies, dark and enormous, your handmade sky-jewelry, moon and stars mounted in their settings. Then I look at my micro-self and wonder, why do you bother with us? Why take a second look our way? Yet we’ve so narrowly missed being gods, bright with Eden’s dawn light. You put us in charge of your handcrafted world, repeated to us your Genesis-charge, made us lords of sheep and cattle, even animals out in the wild, birds flying and fish swimming, whales singing in the ocean deeps.God, brilliant Lord, your name echoes around the world.