The Hiding Place
Today a wild and rambunctious, imaginative and out-of-control 9-year-old boy brought my self-induced frenzy to a screeching halt. To say I stopped on a dime would be an understatement. I came up short with an intake of air and conviction. In his innocent endeavor, I saw exactly what he needed … what I’d been overlooking all morning in my rush to be super-productive so I could relax later. (Sounds dumb, right? It was. It is.)
I’d been hustling since 5 a.m. — work, laundry, cleaning, errands — stray thoughts scattered and bouncing through my hazy brain since sunup. It wasn’t so bad for my girls — they’re older and wise enough to help out and then disappear into their rooms with Algebra and biology homework, followed by a nosedive into their favorite books. Out of sight, out of mom’s mind. They won’t deny truth, if asked.
My man-child, he’s not quite so independent. He needs to talk. He needs to do. He needs to discover and wonder and proclaim most of what he finds in an incredulous tone at the top of his lungs. He needs to bounce and exclaim, jump and jive, protest and forget what I’ve asked him to do, three times now. He needs my full attention — not always, but a good bit of the time — and rightly so. Except I’ve been selfish lately. I’ve been preoccupied. How many times have I replied,
“Just a minute … be there in a minute … hold on a sec … I’m coming …”
… only to dive even deeper into my task at hand without stopping to see what he wanted. Oh, the shortcomings of good mothers who forget to be great in their urge to do it all. It happens too often. But today, by some bit of grace, I glanced up and noticed a dark spot near the barn. There was a boy in the bushes.
He had crawled right into the thick of it. He was sitting atop deep and sturdy roots, on a bed of fallen leaves, with his head in the branches. It was quiet and slow and protected there, but he wasn’t alone. Nestled underneath was a lone chicken. She sought solitude in this out-of-the-way little world, too, but it did get lonely there. Lucky for her, there was a boy in need of comfort. She remained quiet and still while he picked her up and cuddled her close. Misery or more aptly, loneliness, loves company.
I saw this through a lens aimed out a window in a house that suddenly seemed interminably quiet. I put down my viewfinder and searched for boots and coat to protect against the wailing wind, but before I could make an exit he was running full speed to the house to tell me about a coyote track in the yard.
This time I listened with every fiber of my being — determined to be present and attentive, always and forevermore.