When I was a child I lived in the country. I did not know for many years that we were poor. I never understood that most folks did not live the way we did. We were happy to be tucked away, hidden from the world by the trees and the sky and the bubbling creek.
I never realized how rich that land made us until much later.
Are we in a depression?
My youngest asks me this not too long ago as we walk the streets of our suburban neighborhood.
Do you mean as a nation or as a family?
Our family…are we in a depression?
Do you mean emotionally or economically?
I quickly run through my head all the conversations his daddy and I have recently had. What has he overheard?
You know, with dad’s new job and stuff…are we not doing very well with money?
My husband changed directions, professionally speaking, at the beginning of the year and this choice did, in fact, involve a cut in income. The hope was that this position would be a stepping stone to something more rewarding—more stable–and the salary cut would be worth it. However, things never go according to plan and as the months tick by we grow a bit anxious.
My boy doesn’t miss much.
We have to be more careful with money than we used to be. But the fact is, we are still doing better than a lot of people. We need to be thankful for what we have and be good stewards of it.
So. We ARE in a depression.
I look at my son and see him. I see this middle-class kid with his Nike tennis shoes, braces, and big blue eyes. And I remember hand-me-down clothes and dirty bare feet. I remember day-long hikes in the woods and long walks to the bridge on summer days. I remember leaf-filtered sunshine and tall grasses bending in the breeze.
Nah, I wouldn’t say that, I say. We are rich. Richer than anything.
I squeeze his hand and take off running. He runs after me, scattering coins of laughter in the wind. We meet again at the bridge and stand together in silence–staring into water rippling over rocks.
We wade through treasure on the way home. Moments of countless worth. Gems sparkle on the water and golden rays surround us.
If I could, I would take my boys to live in the country. We would dine on joy, spend sparkling days like so many pennies in my change purse…and go to sleep to the sound of earth’s lullaby. But for now, this place—this edge off the city–will do. We can make it fit. With the riches we have, we’ll buy the accommodations. They won’t be secret spots, but they will feel like they are. Small spaces in our neighborhood where we let our spirits drift on the wind. Where we can play towards God—delight in Him.
Some of this play will be light-hearted, but mostly it involves letting ourselves feel. My boys have no trouble with this; but their mother? For me, to feel freely, I must remember. I must remember what it is to be a child.
And I must come to God this way.
Written in response to week one of God in the Yard: Spiritual Practice for the Rest of Us by L.L. Barkat. I’ll be posting off and on–as the spirit moves–about my journey with L.L. through this lovely book.