In the night I dream I am a child.
This body sheds free the years and I am unfettered once again. My torso becomes a breath, these legs long and lanky, my arms–two sticks reaching out from the trunk of me. I am a stranger in my body but I remember this. Oh, yes, I remember this. There is sun-warmed moss beneath my bare feet and I am loosed to run—limbs strong and tireless—forgetting sorrows lived into this skin.
In my dream, we are on the cusp of summer, ready to dive headlong into her depths. I feel her breath fan out on my sleeping cheeks—feel her days linger long before me. When the night comes, so does the dew…soft-gathered on blades of grass. Moisture in the air wets my lungs, clings to my skin. Summer beckons me to stay outdoors long into the night. And my child-self delights to be her guest of honor.
We are catching fireflies. Each twinkling star in the sky above is matched below by a living one and I feel my heart startle with joy each time the air winks before me.
But when I wink back and open my eyes, the dream is gone. And so are the fireflies.
Darkness still lingers but morning peeks at the corners of my window. I move from the bed and feel the fullness of the years gathered up in this body. I creep downstairs and light my candle—my Christ-light. It floods clarity, eyes slowly adjust and I move from vague dimness to this brilliance.
I sit by the window and think about the dream.
When did I forget? When did I grow too old to feel the joy of legs flying free under stars?
But maybe it’s not the sum of the years. I feel Him nudge me. Maybe it’s my mental age. I’m too mature for such things. Too wise.
It’s then that I remember something I recently read.
In her book God in the Yard: Spiritual Practice for the Rest of Us, L.L. Barkat tells me about Wisdom. She reminds me of Proverbs 8, in which Wisdom speaks: When he established the heavens, I was there, when he drew a circle on the face of the deep…then I was beside him, like a master worker…
If wisdom is a master worker, I think, then I will just stay here by the window…let the children play in the red glow of the sun. Not me.
But…Barkat tells me more.
…I never noticed the playful attitude of Wisdom, until one day when I read the footnote; “master worker” can also be translated “little child.” Have you seen a little child, delighting in something he loves? The sense is far different from a master worker, which elicits visions of toil and exclusionary concentration…When I could see Wisdom dodging God’s feet, chanting singsong, clapping hands, this radically changed my view of God’s invitations…God in this particular passage seemed to call me to play.
Restless now, I move outside under disappearing stars. I can never feel Him as near when the sky is all shut up. I sit in the shadows on the porch. The robins are not yet roused from their nests and the stillness thrills awake the sleeping parts in me. Leaves wave in breeze as limbs bend and sway, light begins to seep in at the edges of the horizon. There is moisture in the air—God’s breath all over me.
Come and play, he breathes. Come and play.
I think about my children asleep upstairs. I feel my heart begin to lift.
Is it wise? I ask Him, uncertain.
It is so very wise, He says. Come and play.
Before I can change my mind, I run. In the dim light of dawn I find the heavy swing and I fly. I pump my legs and reach my toes to the sky. My long nightgown flows out behind as the breeze catches me. The morning dew clings to my skin, leaves my hair hanging in damp wisps…washes me clean. I lean my head back and feel laughter spill from my throat.
I haven’t forgotten. I haven’t forgotten how to fly at all.
When I come back down, I see them looking out the window. My boys are wondering if their mommy has lost her mind.
They haven’t seen anything yet. Just wait until they see me catching fireflies…