Monday, September 23, 2013

Wonder lost and found

Once, when I was a kid, I saw this episode of Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood where he visits a crayon factory. I thought it was the most amazing thing I'd ever seen. Something about the imagery, the bright liquid wax hardening into little tubes, the dozens of unique colors mechanically merging together into their boxes, completely captured my imagination. It seemed like probably the most beautiful, magical place in the whole entire world. After that, it was my secret dream to work in a place like that, making crayons.

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At some point before I finished elementary school, I realized that working in a factory wasn't really a very respectable childhood dream, so I gave it up. But I never forgot about the images, of the beauty I had seen in rainbows of wax raining down and floating away in little cardboard boxes.

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Before Andy and I started dating, back when we were pretending to just be friends, we used to drive out to random fields in the country and stare at the stars. As we sat there in the grass I would think about Abraham and his stars, about how many millions more he must have seen, back before electricity and metropolitan areas, than we could ever imagine. I would think about the whole vastness of the universe, every square inch of creation, and I would let the wonder and incomprehensibility of it all melt over me in waves. And I would let myself feel small and insignificant in light of it. And I would let it scare me.  

Later, Andy told me it was one of the things he loved about me, that capacity for wonder. Hearing him put in into words made me want to embrace that part of me and never let it go. But life has gotten busy and my mind is scattered into a million little pockets all around me. I spend so much time looking down at all the little things that I hardly ever remember now to look up at the wide open skylight of images rotating above me.

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Something about having a kid has made me think really intentionally about my life. Even as the days move slowly, I am aware that they will also speed by and we will awake one day to find a grown up human being who is the messy, beautiful combination of all our mistakes and failures and good intentions. I think a lot about the good things I want to pass on, too, and how to make sure all the best of what Andy and I have to give gets through, undiluted. I want to pass on things like gratitude and generosity, empathy and hospitality. And I want to pass on wonder, too, somehow. I want to find a way  to capture what's left of it in me before the final drops are gone. I want to bottle it up and wrap it in paper and give it to my children as a gift to take with them for their whole lives, through their very last days.

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It is dawn when the baby makes his first peeps of the day and I step into his room to pull back the curtains. His eyes squint and and his arms reach out as the morning light slowly emerges and settles into the corners. Outside the sky is filled with a hazy pink glow. I pluck the baby out of his bed and we head out to the front porch, before breakfast, before diapers. We sit on the steps awhile and I point up to the sky saying, "Look! Look at the sky, so early in the morning, pink and new. Isn't it beautiful? Isn't it wonderful?"

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