We want something else which can hardly be put into words—to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it. C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
So Idaho gal leaves for the weekend, gone away with high school girls from church which should earn her, at least, the Congressional Medal of Honor or a bottle of wine or both and in her good-doing I am left with minion 1 and minion 2, caffeinated and amplified minions, their still developing identity spinning out in raw energy and questions, every thought verbalized with great vigor. Too soon all of this energy will go subterranean, sliding incrementally into long sullen silences as they hunker down to figure out who they are and only after long gestation emerge, big and brash, identities all their own. For now, however, each thought and experience must be expressed and engaged because life is big, interesting and enthralling and they want me to be in it with them, all the time.
Which is a time limited good, so I silence my ever chattering call “to do” and settle into the couch to watch a game with them while they yak and eat and dig around in body parts and wiggle, so that watching the game is an aerobic activity and the goodness of the moment is broken by a disagreement, a screech and a thrown lego and minion 2 is sent to his room, on the way his displeasure made known by wails and weeps, until that wee Job lies on his bed and thump, thumps the wall with the heel of his foot until he thump-kerchunks a hole in his wall and in his distress and fascination with the damage he has wrought he snuffles his way back to the couch, abject and worried. And his furrowed brow is so deeply remorseful that it’s impossible to be mad, so we trot off to the bed, look at the hole in the wall, tut tut together and discuss at great length how to patch drywall, and decide it’s time to visit Home Depot for a patch kit, which leads to long minutes searching labyrinthine aisles while I answer endless questions about the importance of mesh in drywall mud. And because minion-ing is calorie consuming, we look for a place to eat that doesn’t serve garlic infused french fries because, of course, any variation from normal french fries will cause much head shaking and hand wringing and maybe a little more weeping.
And dear God I don’t want them to leave this moment – this carefree, unselfconscious, playful, trusting, hopeful way of being. I want to say, plead really, when I tuck them that night, “Stay right here my two founts of chaos. Don’t listen to all the noise that says life is nothing but – nothing but work, nothing but accumulation, nothing but atoms crashing randomly into one another. Don’t do a weary, cynical, ironic distance from life. Do joy, and hope. Always.” But I don’t say that because it would be weird and incomprehensible. So I tuck them in and pray for them, my hand on their little squirmy foreheads, “May our Lord bless you and keep you, make His face shine on you . . . ” which is, I think, a hint of joy’s root and cause. And I want my olders to revisit joy again and again as they grow into adulthood. I remember their little energetic selves, all giggly and wild with promise. To my daughter who can write I want to say “write joy.” To my oldest son who can sing I want to say “sing joy.” Do that.
At least sometimes, on days like this, I can believe it too. With all the little minion-goodness filling my days and beautiful Idaho gal coming home to share life with me, her calm grace a healing balm, I can believe in a joy that “moves the sun and all the stars,” in Dante’s stunning, final vision. We are promised it’s there all the time; “I tell you the stones will cry out.” And for the moment I take it all – this intimation of something more – as pure gift, underserved but so thankfully received.