Tuesday, July 26, 2005

growth spurt

My son and my daughter are having a summer growth spurt, and sporting their sun-blonde locks and lanky tan legs. They have recently begun sleeping late for the first time in their desperate parents’ memory, and when I wander in to wake them, I pause for a glorious moment to memorize them anew. When the boy sleeps curled up in fetal position I can see the day he was born, the moment we first locked eyes. His head was strong, and he held my gaze in his first minute of life. He stretches in his sleep and a transformation occurs: his legs are hanging over the end of the bed, for heaven’s sake! In our neighbor boy’s hand-me-down boxer shorts, he suddenly flops at a considerable length and I see him as a teenager, struggling to consciousness, fighting for another hour of sleep.

The girl, too, so long and brown, her sleeping face a definition of serenity, shape-shifting from the baby in the crook of my neck to the girl who refuses a teddy bear, who trots along in Birkenstocks. Her favorite stripy two-piece bathing suit is by no means skimpy, but it foreshadows some time long from now when she will be off to the beach with friends, and without me. Her confidence and social life are practically that big, already.

Summer is a part of the long season called The Season after Pentecost, in both Jewish and Christian traditions. In the Christian church, we dress the sanctuary in green for the long growing season. My favorite parable is practically a one-liner, “The kingdom of God is like seed thrown on a field by a farmer who then goes to bed and forgets about it. The seed sprouts and grows—the farmer doesn’t know how it happens. The earth does it all without his help: first a green stem of grass, then a bud, then the ripened grain. One day he wakes and the fields are ready, and he reaps the harvest!” Mark 4:26-29. There is no mistake to be made in this parable about the quality of the farmer’s actions or motivations forcing the result. It’s more like, that’s just the way the kingdom of God is, or that’s just the way the universe works from the beginning of time. Throw some hope in, and see what happens.

Not every day feels so blessed and lucky as a summer day with two lovely children sleeping in. But today feels that way. From seeds to sprouts and beyond, they grow like stalks in the sun. Throw some hope in—such good results.

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