We’re easing into 2012 and looking back at our favorite Bigger Picture Moments of 2011. You can join in on Thursday by coming back HERE and linking up your favorite moment from the last year.
This is Hyacynth’s
“Look at me, mom,” he half requests, half demands.
Ok, I say, glancing over at my 3.5 year old as he dances in circles around the kitchen explaining the logistics of fire hoses and relates the art of firefighting to me — ideas that are really, really important to him.
The veggies sizzle in the wok on the stove, and I turn half of my attention back to dinner preparation.
“Mom, you’re not looking at me,” he says. “I need you to look at me.”
“G.,” I explain, “I AM looking at you. I’m also looking at the stove so I can stir dinner. We don’t want it to burn, do we?”
“I don’t care if dinner burns,” he laments. “I want you to look at me. With both of your eyes. Turn your head.”
Increasingly, G. has been demanding our fullest attentions.
“Look at me!”
“Play with me!”
“Sing with me.”
“WHAT?!” I finally explode.
I catch the impatience in my voice often.
But not all of the time.
I needed an escape to do my homework for Vantage Point 3, the emerging journey class, because he would not engage in any form of quiet time whatsoever.
My sister generously offered to watch the boys.
On my way to the coffee shop, book in one hand, Bible in the other, I determined that G. does not have to have my fullest attention at every moment.
He needs to learn patience.
He needs to return to being happy playing by himself sometimes.
He needs to give me five minutes of peace a few times a day.
I settled into my favorite orange chair and begin reading about Jesus’ life.
And how He interacted with those around Him: patiently, deeply, particularizingly, hospitably, prayerfully.
As I dig into the material, I come face to face with C.S. Lewis:
“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature, which, if you say it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare.
All day long we are in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations.
It is in light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics.
There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations — these are mortal,and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. …
Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses.”
I mull this over in my head, slowly letting the words sink into my mindset, blend like cream in black coffee until the colors are no longer two but a soft brown.
I’ve been trying to get things done all day — the laundry, the dishes, this post, Curves stuff.
But one kid or another has run smack into my knees and asked for milk or snuggles or play or whatever.
Or an email or phone call has come through that’s asked for some of me, a piece of my time.
Though it’s gone against every one of my desires, as I really want to continue with my plans, I’ve been trying to listen and respond to these needs to be heard.
Not just nodding my head and smiling.
Not just glancing over in my son’s direction when he asks for me to look at him.
Because we’re all just walking around waiting for someone to really see us, to really hear us.
The posts we publish into the vastness of the blogosphere.
The glances we cast over the top of our book at the coffee shop when an acquaintance walks in.
The status updates we send into our friends’ news feeds.
The spoken words of good or fine that have been carefully dressed in a reassuring smile when a friend asks how we’ve been.
The tweets we blast off into the unknown.
We’re not all actually saying aloud “look at me, notice me, play with me. MOOOMMMEEE.”
But we’re all saying it somehow.
And the question Lewis gave me was loud and clear:
Can I press the mute button on my own words and thoughts long enough to hear and recognize and acknowledge the other lives around me?
Can I let go of the irritation that I feel when my boys interrupt me from building those dynasties that will fade away — the spotless house, the comment on a blog that’s really only chatter, the scarf that doesn’t really need to be knit — to engage with my boys meaningfully, positively.
I don’t mean can I be everything to everyone, sacrifice myself into the flames of only tending to others’ needs.
But I do mean can I pause my busy life, my busy agenda long enough to really take the time to lovingly interact with my sons, my husband, my friends, push them toward greatness?
Because I can quash the irritation brought on by a burnt meal.
But I can’t go back and change the inadvertant way I’ve impatiently interacted with the very souls that will live well beyond last night’s dinner.