I look at the clock at the same time every day, like I have done since my own babies started school, it is just after three o'clock and my heart leaps with joy because I know she will be here soon. Kate is beautiful, there is no denying she is delightful to look at and inspiring to talk to and being in her presence feels like a ray of sunshine and warmth shining right from heaven to my heart.
At the tender age of 16 she seems more centred, more in tune with her higher calling than most adults I have ever met. As her Grandmother I find her completely unnerving and fascinating. Despite her youth she already seems so much wiser, and more worldly, than me even though I am some fifty five years her senior, it hardly seems fair.
She lives just down the road, easy cycling distance and so I have seen her almost everyday of her life and I love her intensely. I start to get sad thinking of her heading off soon to explore the world, thrilled and excited for all the potential and opportunity that exists for her but fearful about the loneliness I will feel without her here with me.
The thoughts of my eldest Granddaughter are broken by the sound of footsteps outside on the pebble pathway.
"Mimsy" she says in her lyrical way as she comes through my old screen door, "have you seen these beautiful flowers down the lane, do you know what they are called, did you plant them?"
"Hello there my Kate, and how are you?", I say teasingly because she often forgets to greet me at all, she says it is because she talks to me all day even when I am not there so hellos and goodbyes never seem necessary, but I'm not convinced.
"Maybe they are Muscari flowers, they are so beautiful and each year they just come up of their own accord, every time I see them I give thanks for the wonderful person who planted them originally, who ever that might have been".
As I talk, I am not sure if my words are even audible, I watch her arranging the beautiful flowers in a vase on the kitchen table. Everything is brighter when Kate is here, her youth is so refreshing and wonderful and I love the slight thrill of never quite knowing when she might skip in, or out, of the house. I am so jealous.
I spent my entire life planning everything, from the earliest age I remember feeling responsible and sensible and that feeling has never left me, no matter how hard I try, I just can not be unorganised or spontaneous. I am one sensible Nelly there is no denying it and Kate is everything I always dreamed of being.
"Mimsy I've been reading some interesting writing of some olden day German scientist, not sure how I even stumbled across it, I think his name is Georg Lichtenberg, or something like that, have you ever heard of him?"
I had heard of him because all my life I have loved journal writing and often found quotes to help focus my writings, and Georg C. Litchenberg had some entertaining, sarcastic and quirky quotes that I often referred to. Before I had time to answer she was continuing.
"He said that to be content with life or to live merrily, rather all that is required is that we bestow on all things only a fleeting, superficial glance; the more thoughtful we become the more earnest we grow. You have intense convictions on lots of things, do you think that has robbed you of contentment?".
She was sitting close to me now, looking at me with great anticipation, waiting for some wonderfully wise words to be imparted by her dear old Mimsy. My first response has always been to answer questions quickly, I fear people will be gone if I take the time to form a thoughtful answer, but Kate had really pierced into my soul with this question.
Striking the right balance between passionate conviction and superficial merriment has evaded me my whole life. I regret that too often I abandoned passionate conviction simply to fit in, to appear normal and have friends and to keep the peace. Fear of being wrong was always a huge deterrent in speaking what was on my heart and in the end spending more time alone has been my answer.
I looked into the sweet, innocent, love filled eyes of Kate and decided not to give her the cynical, harsh and unappealing answer of a tired old woman but I wanted to give her an answer that would give her hope that she could be passionate and also happy and content, just because I hadn't mastered it in over 70 years, didn't mean Kate wouldn't.
"Oh Kate, there is so much I want to share with you ...."
Just then the old grey cat started clawing at the door and meowing to come in. Kate got straight up and cuddled Anne but discovered she had killed another baby bird, at this Kate went outside, taking Anne with her, off the verandah and into the overgrown garden with all its colour, scent, sounds and movement to reprimand the stubborn old cat and the conversation was forgotten. I thank God that Anne interrupted at that very moment because I fear if I had of continued I may have inadvertently tainted Kate's view of the world and that was never my desire or intention.
They say wisdom comes with age but maybe the wisdom is just to say less.
Sunday, 2 February 2014
In December last year we visited the Butterfly House near Coffs Harbour. The girls were desperate for a butterfly to land on them; they sat still and quietly for a long time in a relatively warm and humid hot house , which is to be commended for a 4 and 6 year old, willing a butterfly to land on them. Eventually after waiting and waiting to no avail the lovely lady who worked there carried over two very delicate butterflies and sat one on each of the girls. They were overcome with excitement and happiness.
These butterflies were only 4 hours old, as the butterflies sat on the girls they opened their wings for the first time and started moving them, pushing the blood into their beautiful new wings so they would eventually have the strength to fly. The butterflies are very fragile and vulnerable during this phase but they must move through it to become stronger, more independent and to become the beautiful creatures they have been designed to be.
Today as my little girl clung to me, burying her head into my neck, trying so hard to be brave but quietly sobbing I thought of those sweet little butterflies. She has been basically attached to me for four years and now she has to stretch her wings out and it doesn't feel good, for either of us. I know that if I hold her too close she will not have enough room to stretch those wings out fully, she needs time and space to start flapping those tender, new wings of hers.
As she clung to my arm, crying out she wanted to stay with me, saying she loved me, I had to remove myself. I wanted to cry too, I wanted to grab her and hold her oh so tight and take her home, but I didn't. I know in my heart, stepping out and starting to explore the big wide world without me by her side, in a safe, caring, stimulating environment, for a few hours a week, is probably a worthwhile and beneficial thing for her to do. Plus I need a little bit of time too, quiet time, time to earn some money, time to pursue my dream of writing.
I know I have many more moments just like this ahead of me. I've already had a few when our big girl started school, caught the school bus for the first time, didn't get invited to a friends birthday party, all these experiences that they 'need' to have to grow into independent, compassionate adults who can contribute to make the world a better place. Man it is tough!
Every time 'we' have one of these experiences I think of their beautiful wings getting a little bit stronger. I hear a chorus of angels singing around them, cheering them on; I see the Holy Spirit surrounding them with love, peace, mercy, strength and joy; each time I see the colours of their wings get more vibrant and their wing span get wider; their heart get bigger and yes I cry when they aren't looking. I cry because I am proud, because I am filled with love and yes I get a little bit scared that if I feel anymore my brain and heart just might explode, but this is the cycle, and beauty, of life.
How wonderful to be able to witness the unfolding of these beautiful wings so closely, what a genuine gift to hold them tight enough to give them strength but still let them fly when they need to. What a miracle it is to stand by their side for the rest of my lifetime praying for them, encouraging them, loving them and being able to play a small role in supporting them to humbly and gracefully be the magnificent God created masterpieces they are.
So if you see my little butterflies out there in the big wide world, flapping their wings, trying to get strength can you give them a smile, encourage and support them and I will do the same for yours, ok.