At first, awkward silence and wide-eyed shyness keep them quiet and hidden from each other’s view. Barely moving, staying in a clump around their mothers, unsure of how to bridge this chasm. But it is spanned in one word: “Let’s”.
Let’s go to the park! And the flurry of friendship begins. We don coat and decide we don’t need toques or gloves. Once everyone gathers in the front yard, the thrill takes full hold, and they shoot off across the street, into the mushy field, running towards the high ground, the playground.
We linger a little longer, he and I. At two-and-a-half, his shorter legs require a bit more time to breach the distance. But soon we all arrive. Hearts have melted their shyness and cold reserve, and joy oozes warm and delicious.
Soon, we’ve made boundaries, because the grass is sloshy, and the legs are different lengths. Fun intensifies when contained in boundaries. We dodge and zoom and jump and flail playing Frozen Tag till our faces flush cherry and we want to shed layers, despite the cold.
Then Minion Tag, then Cops and Robbers, the giggles and heaving breaths and exclamations of delight pepper the atmosphere. Anyone else in the park cannot help but know that we are happy.
The younger ones travel to the swings: two becomes three, becomes four, all wanting under-ducks. Kicking legs, giggles of delight, and whoops of ecstasy fill the remaining airspace, harmonizing with the merry engine noises still humming around the playground.
An hour passes so quickly; we finally need water, and so make our way back home. We take the path this time, to avoid the sloggy mush of the low grass. We sing “The Ants Go Marching One by One.” Four children find a dead log, heft it on shoulder, and haul it happily back to the yard.
We tumble into the house, lapping cups of water, then deciding between chocolate chip cookies, lemon meringue, or chocolate pie. Plates slide out of cupboard into eager hands, forks grabbed from drawer are set beside thin pie slices.
Mothers still visit deep and soulish, so the children grab coats and shoes and escape again into the wonder of outside. I stay in this time, to nibble remaining pie and cookies, and gather dishes.
And so passes days of childhood and childrearing: wafting in with steady breezes of play and activity, pausing regularly for water, food, and sleep—just enough to keep playing.
And shouldn’t it be that way for our hearts: knowing the value of necessities, but not overwhelmed by their collective weight?
Aware of trouble, seeking to help, but in the end, trusting the grown up, who knows best, and will keep us safe?
Eager to live, because we know life is inherently wonderful, even when it is painful beyond words?
God, give us hearts of children, to trust You, for all we do not know, for all we cannot answer, for all we fear, for daily bread and secure love, in Your arms.