Wednesday, October 08, 2014

For Tiny at Bedtime, (Epistolary Wednesday)

For Tiny at Bedtime,

It’s the ritual that I think will stay with you through all the years that lie ahead. I don’t know when we’ll stop, but for now I can’t help but believe, as I sit in your dusky bedroom at twilight, that the repetition of these requested songs every night is somehow building a solid core in you. You never sing along, and you only like the songs sung quietly while I rub your back, but I trust that their rhythms are somehow becoming the primal stuff of childhood memories--that and your mother sitting next to your bed, singing.

Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart.

I don’t say prayers with you regularly like all of the good church-going parents I know. I struggle enough with helping you understand my own hold on this unseen God, an invisible being who doesn’t quite “live” in any one place that I can point you to—a person you can feel but not hear or see or smell. How can I explain God to a four-year-old, to whom "going to heaven"--where God also "lives"--sounds about as appealing as visiting the dentist where she'll get to pick out a "prize" when the drilling is all over?

Naught be all else to me save that Thou art.

Other parents say their toddlers talk to Jesus like he’s sitting across the table at supper time. Not you--this family is full of doubters, literalists, skeptics, question-askers. Which is fine by me--because whatever faith we eventually do claim as our own becomes--against all odds--something textured and made sturdy by that doubt, those questions.

Thou my best thought, by day or by night.

I wonder if, when you are grown, these words will remind you of your mama, of the way she surrendered to an unseen God as her best Thought and Vision? 

Waking or sleeping, They presence my light.

I don't always hold the vision before me, though. My awareness of God ebbs and flows like the Pacific current against the west-coast shore, and sometimes my sense of God's presence is all tangled with distraction like seaweed around my feet. But my vision is there and my vision returns and subsides and visits me again. And somehow I'm changed in that process, by the many returns, by all the reminders of God-with-us. I can't explain how this works, Tiny. I can't explain God to you. I can only live before you while I try to know God--in the best way I know how.

***Heather Weber is the author of Dear Boy,: An Epistolary Memoir.

"Dear Boy, is a brilliant and unusual memoir of distance and absence--the absence of a beloved brother from his sister's life and the absence of healthy mothering that, over the years, drove brother and sister apart. Weber deftly shifts point of view so that, piece by piece, readers gather the sum of confusion and loss. Yet there is so much love and forgiveness in the narrator that, in a way, each character is redeemed. I'm moved by this life, this telling of it." --Fleda Brown, author of Driving with Dvorak.

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