No I

no-Iweb

I sat down Sunday morning to work on my alphabet book for parents. I do some rhyming and then some drawing, depending on which side of the brain decides to show up for my creative sessions.

Sunday it was the letter “I”, and there are surprisingly few useful nouns that start with I. There was infant and imp and ice cream, but enough things to make a rhyme?

Parenting duties mercifully interrupted creative time, and I hoped for inspiration later in the day.

T2 needed new shoes so we did that. T1 wanted sloppy Joe’s for dinner so we went to the store got that, and running errands took my mind off of the world and it’s woes for a while.  We came home and I sat down again, scouring my dictionary and thesaurus for something funny in the letter I. I finally came up with the first two lines just as T1 announced that he was starving. I scrapped the whole thing again and got dinner going.

Later that night, the new stanza was born, inspired by my day. That busy Sunday reminded me of my Infatuation with my two Imps and how they inspire me each day. It was also a day when I remembered why it was so hard to write the letter I. There is no I in parent – there’s only T1 & T2,  and that’s okay with me.

Town Meeting

peaceful mountain

I had the picnic basket packed with pasta salad, cheese and crackers, and watermelon by 7PM.  We had an hour to go.  It was a only a five minute drive to the church yard, but we’d need to get there early to find a good spot.

When we arrived, the unofficial meeting was just coming together.  There were dozens of young faces – some just a few months into this world.  There children born on the other side of the globe lolling on picnic blankets with kids whose grandparents and great-great-great-grand’s built this town.  But, while the faces are different, the feelings of the attendees – unlike on official Town Meeting day – were very much in sync.

Everyone, regardless of how they felt about the latest stop sign or school budget line item, greeted their neighbors happily.  Some had brought dinner. Others brought dessert.  In front of the congregation was what looked like a laundry line, draped with colorful sheets.  It looked like the make shift stage Thing1 and Thing2 had created under our swing-set a few years ago.  

By the time the sun dipped behind the mountain at the edge of the field, the meeting was ready to begin. A wiry man with a snowy white beard walked to the center of the lawn making introductions and as he left the grassy stage, players bearing elaborate marionettes glided into view. 

For the next two hours, we watched field in front of the mountain darken, with the only light coming from lamps clamped to teepees at each side of the stage.  The players and puppeteers told tales of foolishness, mercy, greed, and, finally of one of those rare but wonderful instances of man’s humanity to man.  

The last story of a lifetime of generosity and love ultimately benefiting the generous concluded with the illuminating of paper lanterns constructed to look like houses. The puppeteers dimmed the stage lights and soon, the only sight was the tiny houses against the mountain and the only sound was the rushing river nearby.  And the only thing we knew for that moment was the peace that we were unconsciously sharing with everyone in that field.

That moment was a gift from the players.  It was also a gift from the Arab and Jewish storytellers who gave these stories to their children and to the world. As our moment of peace came to a quiet end, I thought of their descendants a half a world away, locked in endless conflict and, gazing at the stars, I wished peace for both sides – for their sakes and everyone else’s.  I wished for us to remember that, we all have an inheritance like this – one that could unite us more than we allow it to us divide us if only we’d claim it.  

It’s only a wish,and, as John Lennon said, I may just be a dreamer.  But I didn’t imagine these stories or that moment.

A Simple Life

Growing up, I loved Little House on the Prairie. I loved it so much, I thought I wanted to switch places with Laura Ingalls Wilder. I loved the idea of making everything you used, and there seemed to be a simplicity to their lives that doesn't exist now. Once I got older and learned to appreciate things like penicillin and voting, that wish vanished (now I'd settle for a Time Machine for the occasional visit),

Searching through town records and shared family trees, it's clear rural life was definitely simpler back then. You were born. You lived. You struggled. If you were lucky, you made it to adulthood and struggled some more.

We struggle with bills and schedules. We struggle with chores and parenting, but when I come across the all too-frequent pairs of dates indicating the existence of a child who died as soon as he or she drew breath, I know I don't really struggle at all.

That struggle is one any parent can imagine. To imagine it happening one or two times in a row – sometime five or six in a lifetime – and still keep fighting just so you could keep parenting the children that managed to draw a next breath, however, is to begin to understand what real strength must have been (and still is where this story continues to plays out around the world).

It is also to begin to appreciate in earnest that a complicated life is actually a fortunate one.