Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Blowing Bubbles

I watched as my little niece Emily and her brother Pierce blew bubbles. They are two and four years old, respectively. Each kept an eye on the other as they dipped their plastic bubble-makers into the sudsy water and laughed with glee as the bubbles grew and then floated in the air and then down to the ground, where they burst. Pierce tried to catch the big bubbles that he made. He chased the larger ones and sometimes succeeded in catching one, holding it delicately on the circle end of the plastic stick. Emily looked at him, and tried to do the same, but all of her bubbles broke before she could catch them. She did not seem to mind, for there were endlessly more bubbles to make and she was quite happy to be a little bubble machine. Pierce was more interested in size and seizure and was obviously more frustrated when his bubble burst.
I watched them, and took pictures of them. I was hoping to catch a good picture of the bubbles in progress, as they grew out of the stem and then floated through the air. And I did get some good shots of that.
And I thought about God and bubbles and kids and grown-ups.
The search for God can be so cerebral, or at least it seems that way to me. Words and ritual, words spoken and written, suggest the possibility that something of God can be known and brought close to our understanding, maybe even our sight. Maybe there is more to God than what can be seen with the eye, or held onto with words, ritual and the like. Things that rise before us and that we can hold, for a little while.
Pierce and Emily were delighted and fascinated with the bubbles that they made. I could sense that they experienced a sense of accomplishment in making the bubbles and, at least in Pierce’s case, catching an occasional big one. They were completely absorbed in what they were doing and, in fact, had to concentrate as best they could to make the bubbles and hopefully catch them. The rest of the world dropped out of sight and the bubbles grew and then took to the air.
Emily and Pierce are little children and have yet to grow in knowledge of who we are as family, and how we love them, and how we hope for them. They do not know of the losses we have known through death. They are way too young to wonder about suffering, through they experience it when it comes their way, when things do not go the way they would like, when they feel pain. Those who love them will shelter them as best they can from all that might hurt them. But things happen, things that hurt. Emily rubbed her eye, her fingers wet from the soapy liquid. She seemed startled when she felt the sting in her eye, and then started to cry, and her dad came and picked her up and washed her eye with a kiss and a wet napkin. And then the world was better, the way it always should be, but simply isn’t. The pain was soon forgotten and the bubbles rose again.
It is a true wish, a hope that can be found in the longings of parents all over the .world, that their children be happy, be loved; to be spared the hurts and troubles of this life. There is this truth to us, that we want to protect each other from the pain that life – that we – can and do inflict. Love somehow tries to shield us from what we can do to each other.
Kids only know that love is good. It kisses what hurts. It holds them when there is that sleepy feeling. There is food when hungry, warmth when cold. These good things and more come as gifts.
I recently read a poem, or perhaps some lines of an essay, by Margaret Hawkins. I think the words are beautiful – they are the words of a mother to and for her newborn baby:

Before you were conceived I wanted you
Before you were born I loved you
Before you were here an hour I would die for you
This is the miracle of life

~ Maureen Hawkins

Such beautiful words, words that give life, breathed into us by God. Words that expand the heart, make it grow; enable us to give it away.

I watched the bubbles rise, then burst. I watched Pierce as he laughed with delight when he caught a bubble and held it. And I watched Emily’s eyes widen with awe as she made her own bubbles and watched them rise.

Making, holding, losing and keeping – all these will move through their lives and the cycles will embrace everything from birth to life, from death and on through the mysteries of the eternal.

We are wanted by God, for we are here, and have been desired. And we are loved, and we were made by a God who came here, lived among us, and died for us.

This is the miracle of life. On a warm afternoon, I watched the bubbles rise. Children were happy, and I like to think God was, too. The God who made children and bubbles. The God who breathed life into us, and who catches us when we fall, and who will never lose us. All he asks is that we learn to keep each other, to allow no one’s life to burst from loneliness or loss or heartache. We have hearts to catch each other, and to make us rise a bit here on earth, rise until the day time ends, when God breathes again, and we are born into eternal life.

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