Earlier today, at the tinies’ request, I made a dozen paper crocodiles at the kitchen table. Just a pair of scissors and a folded piece of paper turned into hours of playtime, sometimes I make it – toys, playtime, faith, marriage, friendship, all of it – more complicated than it really is. Sometimes a paper crocodile is enough for everyone, and sometimes your kitchen floor should have bits of paper and buttons and string on it. One of the tinies was upset because their crocodile had “horrible” teeth but we all decided that crocodiles should have horrible mismatched teeth, higgledy-piggledy to be truly fearsome so it was okay in the end.
We went for a walk before supper. The pizza dough for Sunday night was still rising on the oven, and so we put on our old runners and the jeans with worn-out seams. I had a group of dear friends in town this weekend which was lovely and full, so I’m feeling a bit tired and talked out. We headed for an old playground tucked behind a few dodgy houses, the neglected kind with a wooden play structure that is too tall for insurance purposes, and bits of wood, too-full trash cans, loitering teenagers who slink away when adults show up, and those old swings on long, long chains that make sure a kid touches the sky. Everything is becoming so safe, but still kids love that thrill of danger and delicious fear at an old playground, and so we hunt them up, hope the city continues to neglect them, and we swing too high for a while. I miss the old merry-go-rounds, the ones you could lay out on, full stretch, while someone swung you round and round, faster and faster, and the clouds blurred and you felt immortal and wild and still in the whirl.
I answer a lot of questions: Joseph is four years old now, and he can question like a CIA interrogator, relentless, for hours at a time, until I’m reduced to saying, “No more! No more questions! Not one!” and then he says, after a beat or two, “Mama, why don’t fish breathe air?” They were playing pirates on the gigantic slide tower. Anne stood guard, her butterfly net in hand, staring off into the distance on watch for invaders. The storm clouds were gathering above her head, and I pulled out my camera phone, snapped a quick shot because I couldn’t believe how strong she looked, standing high up in the sky, staring off into the gathering darkness, resolute.
We walked home together, talking about decisions and dreams and daily work. Anne ran straight down the hill ahead of us, her hair streaming behind her, legs churning like an adolescent colt while Joe stumbled and rolled like a puppy after wards. After everyone washed their hands, I rolled out pizza dough and then we turned on a television show so they could have Pizza and a Movie Night (always a big treat). I read a book over my food, Brian watched hockey on his computer, and it felt lazy and wonderful. Then I gathered my babies on the couch for our bedtime reading. Tonight was another worn-out Berenstein Bears book, the one where Brother and Sister Get In A Fight.
But I stopped reading all of a sudden. Just trailed off, really, because I was distracted by the light coming through the front window blinds. It took me a minute to figure out that the light was catching the cottonwood fluff in mid-drift down from the forests around the city. Somehow the effect of the cottonwood fluff thick in the air and the light and the trick of the blinds made it look like glitter flying in the street, like tiny stars on fire, and I stopped reading until I got a good poke in the ribs, “Mama, you stopped!”
But look at the light, look at the light, look at the light, I stuttered. Look at coming down, it’s just cottonwood fluff and light and blinds and look at the light. How is that happening? The world is full of stars in the daylight.
It’s Pentecost today, I wanted to write something today about Pentecost. I wanted to write about Pentecost because I speak in tongues, and I love the words and freedom of the Spirit, and I believe in fire descending and the birth and rebirth of the Church and scarlet geraniums. I wanted to write about the way that God is For us and the ways that God is With us, and the ways that God is Among us, but instead, I ended up sitting on my couch, covered in children, Evelynn had red socks on her feet.
I ended up with nothing to say but this: There are buttons on the table and craft glue under my nails, and I was struck quiet, arrested, by the way the light catches the every day seeds flying, looking for a place to land among us. A simple holy day, immortal and wild and still: For, With, Among, descending, let the language of our birth stop for just a while, light is descending.