This month at Middle Places we're writing about reconnection - finding the places in ourselves, in our relationships, in our activities, in our faith where we need to be brought together again. Today I'm telling a story about Bobby and how his new grasp on language is helping me reconnect in unexpected ways.
My toddler is learning to talk.
He has a few verbs, like "Help!" and "Drink?" And, if we try to strap him in the stroller, he inevitably announces that he'd rather "Walk!!!" More recently he's added a few adjectives to his repertoire. His favorites are "Messy" and "Bobby's." Last week when I went out with Chris for a date night and actually wore a dress and high heels, he looked me up and down and declared "Nice!"
But mostly, his vocabulary is a constant parade of nouns.
There's a thrill of excitement in his voice when he uses his newfound words, connecting language with his experiences. What was once a blur of light and color is now "Sunshine" and "Flowers" and "Bees". These days walking with Bobby is never about getting from point A to point B, it's always about discovering what exists along the way. And with his growing but limited vocabulary, he's inviting me to notice our world with him.
I’m usually in a hurry. I love to say yes, so I’m often trying to hustle to get all the “to-dos” checked off before bedtime. And while we’re going from playgroup to the dry cleaner and he’s exclaiming “Doggie!” and pointing at the terrier walking by, I find myself repeating the same refrains – “Come here, Bobby” or “This way” or “Hurry up.”
Lately, though, I wonder if it’s my toddler that has the right idea.
In Emily P. Freeman‘s new book Simply Tuesday, she considers that perhaps what matters in life are not actually the things we usually ascribe of meaning to, the important meetings, the getting things done, the big events. Rather, it could be that what happens on an average Tuesday is really the life we long for, if we can learn to live into it.
Let’s dig deep, not to create meaning where there isn’t any, but to see Christ, our companion where he actually is, not where we wish he was. Let’s gently poke our sleepy souls, refusing to wait for a big event to wake us up. Let’s stop running from ordinary time but begin to sit in the midst of it.
I want to reconnect with that part of myself, the part that sees Jesus in ordinary time. I want to stop rushing from one thing to the next and live into the little moments in between, where God is just as present.
Recently I wrote a story for Abby Norman’s Modern Day Parables series. In considering the way that Jesus used parables and writing my own, I’ve begun to see again how God’s kingdom is everywhere. The kingdom of God is like the firefighters who raised money for their waitresses’ dad. It’s like the laundry on the line, washed and made ready again. It’s like the lost TV remote, out of place and longed for.
And as Bobby walks to the parking lot, exclaiming his nouns with delight, the kingdom begins to come in my heart – smelling the flowers by the playground and feeling grateful again to abide with the One who clothes the lilies of the field.
It’s easy to forget that Jesus is just as present in the dirt, stopping to watch a worm wind back and forth with my 2 year old, as he is at Bible study.
But as my toddler points his chubby finger to the sky and yells “Clouds!”, I’m learning to stop and behold them, their swiftly changing shapes, lovely and mysterious, offering the promise of rain to make things new again.
I’m finding God’s kingdom in the nouns.