Last evening, bedtimes were late. The boys were hungry. Miska was (rightfully) stressing about oral surgery she would have today (all is well, thanks for asking). I sprawled on the couch, surrendering for just a few clicks to a deep weariness. This fatigue has lurked around our house for a while; though Miska has carried it further, we’ve traded it back and forth.
I waved Seth over, and he crawled onto the couch with me. I stroked his hair and squeezed him tight, this boy adding sinew and muscle and inches by the day. Since it was bedtime and, truth told, I didn’t feel like walking up the stairs to his room, I said we would commence our nightly ritual right there, prayer and blessing as the two of us lay like twin-pops across our leather sofa.
Seth buried his head in my shoulder, and I began:
God, thank you for my son Seth. Thank you for his strength and his courage and his good heart. Thank you for the joy he brings me. Help him know you are real. Help him know you love him – and that I love him. Amen. Without a pause, I raised my thumb to his forehead, made the sign of the cross. Bless you, my son.
Seth looked up, beaming. “I want that on my ipod.”
Don’t we all? Aren’t we all craving for someone to see us, to notice what is good and true in us? Aren’t we taken aback on those far too rare occasions when someone speaks a word that zings right past the trivial and pierces our hidden question, our smothered neurosis, our muted desperation?
And we need to hear these true words like an echo, an echo stuck on “repeat.” For some sad reason, we cling to the violent, wicked and demeaning words. Yet the words that bring life, the words that prompt tears, the words that catch our breath or make us nervous or hint that a rich vein has been struck — those words we let loose. We don’t receive them. We know a million reasons to cast them askance: perhaps the one speaking is biased or doesn’t know us well or is simply playing nice. Perhaps. Perhaps. Perhaps. Perhaps is a joy-killer. Beauty can’t sprout where it isn’t welcome.
We need to hear these true words. We need to speak these true words. Listen for them. These words are life.