Our life is punctuated by parentheses. Spaces and moments that are not the main point, not the absolute essential and rarely end with an exclamation mark. Pieces that are inserted right in the middle of things, causing us pause, sometimes asking us to reconsider what was said before and after. The thing all these instances have in common is the encapsulating round lines on either side. I think of these as the safe walls intentionally put up amid routine and chaos. I think of myself as the author. The creator of these moments for my children who do not yet know the grammar and rules. The little babes who rely on intuition and the whirring wings inside their little bodies.
Tonight, on a car ride home from a friends house, I decided that what matters to me more than my own cynicism is softness. A soft heart is what I want. I put on some choral music and we drove our suburban route back home. The moon was round and layered in a quilt of clouds. Remy had gotten his shirt muddy, so he was bare-chested and in his black and white striped pants and in the rearview mirror I could see his round face looking back at him against the dark window. Thea moved her arms in slow circles. We drove for a while without talking, and then I sensed that Remy wanted to say something. I turned down the music and he said, "Mom, Jesus is close by here. He is in my mind telling me to do good things and I'm listening." All I could muster from the front seat was, 'that's nice, Remy.' Writing the exchange now seems to undo some of the relevance and peace that accompanied the moment, but I guess this is precisely my point.
I stumble over my words. I don't know how to voice the complexities of both my faith and doubt to my four year old with my limited language, and so, often, I say nothing at all. I've spent a lot of time worrying that I am doing him a disservice or will do him a disservice in the future by not articulating every nuance of my belief and un-belief, but tonight I understood that my words will always be secondary to what he can learn to hear himself.
Tonight I felt that it is my job to create pockets of safety and peace in which my children can nestle into themselves and listen. It is not my job to tell them what to hear or understand there, but rather to simply trust it. I think of our car ride home as a brief parenthetical moment in our day. That is my job, to every now and then listen carefully enough to know when a sentence needs pause, and to be brave enough to put up the proper grammar, that rounded wall, a deliberate sacred space. The world is full of run-on sentences, of exclamation marks and words that are not well thought out. The world will not offer my children that space to pause and breath, to look at their reflection in the window, with the moon high above, and believe (because what else are they made of?) that Jesus is in their head, telling them to do the best things.