The steps of four children and a full grown man thunder through the house. A rousing game of hide and seek is afoot this rainy, Saturday morning. I was transported back a couple years to another moment, similar to this one.
I leave the batter soaked bowl of a pancake breakfast and join in the noise.
I plopped down on my knees and resigned myself to the untidy trenches of beach sand. Really it’s the only proper way to build a castle; especially one complete with a river winding up to the moat. It took only moments for every child within twenty feet to notice me. Soon I started to hear them murmur to their parents “What is she doing?” and then they’d stray closer to get a look. All of the sudden I remembered…
“Children don’t want entertainment. They want interaction.”
I must have learned this lesson a hundred times over the last three years but somehow I always forget. Most of the parents had taken up a supervisory roll on the beach; monitoring their children as they tried to soak up a few rays and relax. This is usually my posture as well, on any given day, but my children were too young to play in the water alone so I had no choice but to be engaged.
As I piled and packed and patted I started to remember other things too. Like how good it felt to get dirty. I remembered how smooth the sand makes your feet as it rubs away at the weathered outer layer of calloused skin. I also remembered the sensation of creating a whole little world from a pile of glorified dirt. Creativity must be one of the ways we’re made in His image. I got so involved I even smoothed down the ground around my castle so that it made nice rolling hills. Being engaged felt good! Just as I was drawing the lines for my fields my youngest stormed the castle and left nothing but a heap. Another truth remembered…
Nothing lasts (so take a picture).
I looked up from my short-lived empire I found myself staring into the faces of my loved ones. As so often it does, awareness rolled through me in one grand melting motion- I have a family. I remember getting married and I remember cleaning up a perpetual stream of spit up, then I think I was pregnant again and suddenly… I have a family! Like one you see in pictures on billboards! The boys are walking, talking, building, ENJOYING THE BEACH! I was just a newlywed! They were just babies! Still, this new stage had become so familiar that it seemed permanent. Just as all those previous stages had.
Change happens so inevitably and so gradually that we scarcely realize it. We’re up to our necks in one season and don’t feel ourselves move into the next and it’s easy to miss the beauty of each. This isn’t just true when we become parents either. Think of how quickly we are forced from our own childhood. We spend ten or twelve meager years as a child and then the next sixty trying to be an adult. I remember that first moment I wanted to play with a doll but knew I was too old. It was the tug to grow up. To leave the simple fun of life for more evolved pleasures. I don’t remember much after that moment but it didn’t take long for me to run full on into adulthood.
Still, God has a way of bringing us full circle. Just when I felt I had conquered the realms of religion, work and marriage He brought me children. My two relentless sons quickly shattered my highly evolved theories on life. They casted a steep shadow on so many of those “evolved pleasures” I had come to know and forced me to redefine happiness and faith all together. They brought me to my knees; on my knees, in the sand and back to the simple pleasures in life. Back to being engaged and getting dirty- back to joy, back to love, back to life.
And now I remember.