“Mom, there’s so many things I want to do in life.” He finishes his declaration and we sit quiet for several moments. I don’t want to interrupt the sacred. I wait.
And in the silence, I can see a younger version of myself.
Lain out on my belly, propped up on one elbow, copying pages out of books because I wanted to write -- oh! how I wanted to write! -- but I didn’t know what, so I alternated between reading and reproducing words already written.
The entirety of my formal education hadn't even begun with numbers, yet in the space between K and 1st, I absorbed story. And while I heard children playing outside, absorbing sunshine, I absorbed syntax and cadence, practicing perfect placement of script across the page. Yeah, perfect, because there's just something about the way the uppercase A plants two feet perfectly on the line with the tip of his head nearly, but not quite, touching the line above him.
And it's interesting how we don't know what we don't know in the moment and that whole thing about hindsight. Ha! How hindsight culminates into trickles of insight.
My boy waves his arm for emphasis, as though all the experiences gained in a lifetime of 19 years is swept across the table before him. “There’s so much…” His voice trails off and I study his expression. Like he doesn’t know how to finish the sentence because he doesn’t know where to begin. How to find his footing.
And I have nothing to offer because I remember when the whole world beckoned and the sky was the limit and the stark realization of the battles to wage on behalf of those who don’t have a voice. No, we’re on holy ground. Better to bite my tongue.
I’ve spent his lifetime speaking over him God-sized destiny. Isn’t that what us parents do? So yeah, everything in me wants to lay out for him – for the umpteenth time – his royal heritage as the son of the Kings of Kings, bestowed not for his benefit, but for a mission, a purpose… and I can sense my thoughts trailing off, too…
I can see glimpses of how that whole thing about being knit together in the womb…
How my propensity for daydreaming and wondering has translated to these grown up years of interest in neuroscience, developing an insatiable curiosity to learn how people think, forever trying to solve the world’s enigmas. And I won’t stop asking people questions -- lots and lots of questions -- because filling the air with ideas and theology, intrigue and... story... it’s one of the most romantic ways I can imagine to wile away a life well lived. This whole concept of entering into and engaging with another's story borders on intoxicating.
Looking back, if I could speak into the soul of that younger me,
…regarding all that lead and ink and paper, the cramp in my hand and...
how one day I’d fill journals that mingled copied quotes and Holy Script interspersed with soul's deepest cries, desires, and joys? That I’d drive my husband and children plum crazy with the gzillions of "important scribbles" on the backs of envelopes and receipts, napkins and my son's math assignment, stacked in piles everywhere.
Ha! I’d tell my younger self to roll with it. Yeah, just roll with it. To let it be part of the journey and adventure. To embrace this day. And, well, when in a few years, like almost 20 if I’m being honest, when my son sits across from me a little dazed – gaining momentum only to come to a sudden detour will do that, you know – I’ll sit quiet with him. Because, well, there’s so much…
And I don’t want anyone telling me “Life is a journey…” blah, blah, blah. But, it is, isn’t it?
The cool thing is that law of reaping and sowing. How that I’m reaping the fruits today from seeds sown over four plus decades.
Eli’s eyebrows are furrowed. He’s deep in thought. For every high school graduate, goodness, for every young college graduate for that matter, the world beckons and the sky’s the limit and I want to tell him, “Hey Son, it’s more important than ever to be brave. Use the clues – the harvest of almost two decades – and pursue today’s adventure.”
Jon Acuff writes in his book, “Start.” that we don’t have just one purpose, one job to do here on earth. He writes, “When you were young, your right hemisphere or ‘right brain’ was in full force. It was the guy in charge, and it was the part of your brain that embraced curiosity and adventure and was constantly unafraid to ask Why? and Why not?”
Somewhere along the way, we start looking for safe. We learn from experience and become a little more risk averse.
So I’m trying not to panic while in the throes of launching a website, writing a book, reaching out to those in my sphere of influence. And I want to tell Eli and every other young person to keep taking steps, no matter how small, keep moving forward!
Heh. The hardest person to lead is yourself. Yeah, about that. So I keep quiet. Take a tiny, almost imperceptible step. Am tempted to be paralyzed by fear, (far too frequently). Lean into Grace. Rely on the promises made by an unfailing, faithful Father.
Acuff continues a little further into the book, “You’ve got today, and today is all you need to start. The rest will come into view as you go.”
So another thing I’d tell my younger self? Keep on copying. By hand.
I suppose that seems random. But you see, I’m six months into a project. And it’s pretty much changing my life… Every morning I’m reading five chapters in Psalms. Come to find out, if you read five every day, you finish the entire book of Psalms in a month. Well, once I set out to achieve this goal in December, I started over in January, and then again in February. Here I am in May, and I’m on my sixth time reading through the Psalms.
Here’s the best part. I’m copying passages, oh, sometimes just a verse or a phrase, but other times, entire passages. There in the quiet space before anyone else is awake, I’m absorbing Syntax and Cadence. Renewal and Glory. Truth and Dreams Reawakened.
With the added bonus of “optimal efficiency” in my brain? Whew! Yes to that, please.
"...scientists are discovering that learning cursive is an important tool for cognitive development, particularly in training the brain to learn “functional specialization”(link is external)—that is, the capacity for optimal efficiency. In the case of learning cursive writing, the brain develops functional specialization that integrates both sensation, movement control, and thinking. Brain imaging studies reveal that multiple areas of brain become co-activated during the learning of cursive writing of pseudo-letters, as opposed to typing or just visual practice.
If I could whisper destiny into all the seemingly insignificant nuances... all the detours… all the times when fear knocks at the door… and I CAN whisper destiny… I MUST…
It resounds triumphant…
Life is a pilgrimage. A journey, especially a long one, made to some sacred place… (dictionary.com)
Here we are in this moment, our strength in the One Who knits us in the womb, our hearts set on out-of-the-womb pilgrimage, going from strength to strength. (Psalm 84:5,7)
You’re right, Eli, there is so much.
Walk with me a little while?
And then another.
*[Cue me leaning over my steaming cuppa joy, sincerely wanting to hear your heart’s journey.] What’s your #1 single biggest challenge in your pilgrimage right now?