Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Homecoming

A lone traveler walked along a desolate country road. he was cold, hungry and tired. He had been traveling for days, but it seemed more like an eternity. The traveler had wanted to stop and rest several times along the journey, but was afraid that the weariness would overcome him and he wouldn't be able to continue. He trudged on, clinging to the hope that home was just around the next bend in the road, beyond the next clump of trees. The journey had taken its toll on him. In the beginning he had been a strong man, walking straight with his head held high. As the miles added up, his load became heavier. He had to abandon many of his belongings along the way, until all he had left was a canteen with barely a drink of water.

Finally, he saw a glimmering light in the distance. And the smoke from a fireplace. Home.

He mustered up all his strength and rushed forward, throwing open the front door. In the crackling light of the fire stood his mother, radiant in her youth and beauty. Her arms were outstretched to embrace him, just like when he was a boy coming home from school. His beloved grandfather sat in the rocking chair, grinning ear to ear. His grandfather had taught him how to hunt and fish in his childhood. His baby sister lay in her cradle, softly cooing. It had been a long time since he had seen her. Standing around the room were his brothers and sisters, and aunts and uncles, all smiling as they warmly greeted him. At last he noticed the table laden with food that was befitting a celebration. At that moment a commanding voice could be heard from the head of the table.
"Come in and rest, my son. We've been expecting you."

The traveler was home at last.
(In memory of my father-in-law, who would have been 90 years old this year.)

(c) Anita M. Ashworth 1991

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A River Runs Through It

One of my favorite movies is "A River Runs Through It." It is a quiet, slow-paced coming of age story about two brothers growing up in early 20th century Montana. The father, a Presbyterian minister, and his two sons are avid fly fishermen. The movie "hooked" me (pardon the pun) in the first scene, where an elderly man is fishing and the narrator (Robert Redford) speaks, "I am haunted by waters." His words are pure poetry. Naturally, I bought the book written by Norman Maclean, who wrote the stories based on his life. I have never been to Montana, nor have I been fly-fishing, but the story of Norman and his brother, Paul, is as ancient as the story of the prodigal son. The brothers are as different as night and day; Norman is the responsible, bookish elder son, and Paul is the unpredictable younger brother who walks on the wild side of life. But the two things the brothers have in common is the love for fly fishing and their genuine affection for one another.

In one of the last scenes, Norman's father is giving a sermon about how hard it is to understood the ones we love. "It is those we live with and love and should know who elude us." He was surely thinking of his son, Paul, who was murdered.

From the book,
"Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters."
Pure poetry.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Lessons From a Two-Year Old

There was a book published several years ago titled, "Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten." It was a charming, humorous book, but the author was wrong, because everything you need to know in life can be learned from a two-year old.

What I learned from a two-year old is that it's okay to play until you drop from exhaustion. When was the last time you did that as an adult? The two favorite words of a two-year old are 'No" and "Mine." What would happen if grown-ups started saying "No" more often? Would we be as over-scheduled and over-obligated as we are now? And what about "Mine?" There are some adults who can use a little 'me' time without feeling guilty.If we don't take care of our own needs, we are certainly no good to anyone else.

These tiny creatures from another planet can be obstinate and willful and lovable, all at the same time. Sometimes you can't get near them, and other times they want to plant wet kisses on you and give you those little hugs that you cherish.

When a toddler is tired, what do they do? If they are like my grand-daughter, she will bring me her favorite blankie and her doll and sippy cup, and then crawl up in my lap. After a few squirms and kicks she settles down for a nap. What if grown-ups could take an afternoon break with our favorite thing, be it the best-selling novel we haven't had time to read, or pick up our knitting where we left off - wouldn't work be less stressful?

Everything is a joy and a new experience to a two-year old child. They are thrilled by the tiniest bug, chase after bubbles, and run to their heart's content. Tired is not in their vocabulary, not like adults, who wake up tired. And boredom? Have you ever seen a 'bored' two-year old? They are too busy exploring their environment to be bored. And, don't want to sleep alone? No problem. When you are two, Mommy and Daddy will make room for you. Get away with murder? It helps to be two.

No, I don't think you have to wait until Kindergarten. You can learn a lot just by observing a two-year old. Of course, not all toddlers are perfect. Some actually do throw temper tantrums, but then again, I've seen some adults throw temper tantrums, too! So maybe its not just a phase.

If we looked at life with the innocence of a child, every day would be full of joy and wonder. We would laugh more often and play until nap time and eat Cheetos for breakfast and take pride in all of our small accomplishments - these are lessons that grown-ups should embrace.

God Bless the little children.