I was planting tomatoes over the weekend when the shovel hit some resistance with a loud clunk. Bending down to look, I noticed something reflecting sunlight from down in the cool, dark hole. It was glass. Or glass bottles, rather. Several of them.
One was brown glass, and had a large "A" with a bird stamped all over it. Another was short and squatty. Another was cylindrical and skinny. And then there was this one... no more than 3 inches tall, with the words "Bayer Aspirin" forged into its little sides. It's hard to see from the picture, but it's there.
I brought them in, cleaned them up (which took some doing as they were all filled with caked dirt), and put a tiny posie in the aspirin bottle. I put it on the dining room table and took a break and looked at it.
I found myself wishing, at that very moment, that I had a child.
To be fair, I've been thinking about it often lately, but at that exact moment it hit me like a tidal wave. A few weeks ago, a lady in town asked me if, when I got the house fixed up, I would consider helping the local Child Protective Services and maybe... keep a child or two in between homes? I gasped. "It's a lot to consider," I said thoughtfully. And it is.
The trouble is, I haven't stopped considering it. As I was making bread Sunday, I suddenly wished I had a little pair of hands nearby. I could imagine tearing off a small lump of dough and handing it to those tiny hands. "Push it like this," I'd say. And we'd knead away, getting flour into every crevice and cranny in the kitchen.
And then planting those tomatoes. I could just see... in the middle of me prattling on and on about planting things... the shovel hitting those bottles, and suddenly childlike enthusiasm would hang in the air as we uncovered the "buried treasure". Imagining sharing that moment with an elated little one as we rushed to pick flowers and fill the tiny bottle with water... brought tears to my eyes. Still does.
My mother and I made plans yesterday to spend my 28th birthday, in three weeks, in Savannah, Georgia. I'm manic with anticipation. But when I stop... just before I turn out the lights at night... I think, I'm 28. I won't ever be brave (foolish?) enough to attempt marriage again. I'll never have a daughter to take to Georgia on her 28th birthday.
It's enough to keep you home on a Tuesday morning, usually my best day of the week, draining a coffee pot and staring listlessly out the window.
I got an email last night from someone who read yesterday's post and expressed doubt over my childlike faith. "You make it all sound too easy," she said. "Faith is not simple. It does not make you happy."
She's right, probably. Maybe I do make it sound easy. Some days... days like today... it's not. And faith... wherever you find it and however it meets you... is not simple. It slips, and laughs, and rallies, blushes if any see, according to Emily Dickinson. And no, faith cannot make you happy.
But it is... and always will be... the substance of things hoped for. On happy days and sad. It is, and always will be, my rallying cry. My reason to turn off the coffee pot and start my day, childlike and childless. It's that way for the woman who'd like to escape her children... even if for a day, and the woman staring out the window wishing she had one to escape with... even if for a day.
Fillmore says "it's the childlike mind that finds the kingdom". Undoubtedly true. But it's also the childlike minds with faith that triumph. That seek... and find. Surely to us the Kingdom is just around the bend....