Thursday, March 12, 2009

"Gains for Our Losses"

I found a poem by R.H. Stoddard that expresses how I feel today about being 32; a worn-out workaholic by necessity, not by choice (this week = midterms); and mother of 3 small children who have sapped the life out of me lately because I've been up till 1 am every night this week grading papers while they wake with a full tank of energy:

There are gains for all our losses--
There are balms for all our pains;
But when youth, the dream, departs,
It takes something from our hearts,
And never comes again.

We are stronger, and are better,
Under manhood's sterner reign;
Still we feel that something sweet
Followed youth with flying feet,
And will never come again.

Something beautiful is vanished,
And we sigh for it in vain;
We behold it everywhere--
On the earth and in the air--
But it never comes again.

Every day, I catch Stoddard's "Something Beautiful" in Wyatt's eyes....childhood innocence, excitement, wonder, no worry, no responsibility, no knowledge of how cruel others can be, no thought beyond the here and now. We play together, wrapped up in pure laughter and mindless ball games as we tumble across the yard, stopping to pick a weedy flower, kick a pinecone, or dig up a bull thistle plant. But, even though I am right beside him, touching him, caught up in the same things he is doing, I can never again catch his innocent wonder and freedom. I can see it in flashes, reach high with outstretched arms to grasp it, but there's always something breaking in before I latch hold of it, always something beckoning me to come and ponder it or attend to it. And then, the child-like beauty of innocence that I was sure I could certainly hold for just one afternoon...for just one hour...for just the few minutes he and I played together--now, it seems I was never really close at all but was, instead, just experiencing a desperate imagining of my mind as I sought to escape my life.

I have to wonder if when we Christians are in heaven, we will find that "Something Beautiful" again, if all those child-like qualities we lost will be returned to us because there will be no worry, no tears, no sin, no cruelty...only the wonder of heaven and an eternity spent with Jesus. The only thing missing will be the innocence--we'll still have our memories, so I'm not sure.

My dear Wyatt, how I envy you at this moment.

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