Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Inner Light

One of the concepts in Quakerism that has caught my imagination is the idea of Inner Light, and the idea that there is something of God in every single person, no matter who they are. It's not that I specifically didn't believe this before, but the way they describe it and think about it is particularly interesting.

Something that goes hand in hand with this belief is the idea that God is revealing himself to us all the time in the people around us, often right in front of our noses.

Example. Today I was tired in that early afternoon slump. The plumbing had just backed up and I was really tired and feeling like I needed to do a million things at once, but all I really wanted to do was take a nap. Or, to be more specific, to curl up in fetal position under a blanket and disappear for an hour or so. I had also found an old memento from a friend of mine who had stopped talking to me, and never told me why, and I was feeling unnaturally sad about that old loss from a long time ago. I wanted a hug and an ice cream cone, and a long long nap.

Norah fell asleep for her nap, and Chris went to his room for quiet time. I cocooned myself in my room and tried to wipe the mental slate clean and reenergize with a quick nap. I heard the bedroom door open.

"The toilet's not workin," said C. He meant that it wouldn't flush, because I had turned off the water to avoid it flowing over.

"I know," I said, not sure what else to say. Something else on my to do list that makes my life harder. I knew I was in a funk and I wanted to get out of it to be ready for the afternoon.

"I need some shorts."

I found him some shorts in the laundry pile (drawers and closets? Pshaw.) and helped him put them on. I laid back down.

"But Mama," he said, standing at the side of the bed. "I can take a nap with you, and then Daddy will come home and he will fix the toilet."

"He will, you're right," I said, and then I felt that little nudge in my spirit that said, He is trying to spend time with you. Don't send him away. "I can come in your room with you for nap," I said.

He instantly brightened. "Okay!" he said. "You can use my blanket!"

I took my pillow and followed C down the hall, and all I can say is that it was like I had entered some kind of enchanted space. Maybe it was holy. C went to his mattress and pulled up the patchwork quilt. "There it is," he said, proudly. "It has lots of shapes on it."

"It does!" I said, leaning over on my pillow on the far edge of the bed. I expected him to crowd in next to me, but instead he took his own pillow and blanket onto the floor and laid down next to the bed. His head popped up to see me. "It's a nice blanket, isn't it?"

I was crying by then at his simple sweetness. How many three year-olds sleep on the floor so you can have the bed?? But crying quietly and hoping he wouldn't notice. I don't want him to have memories of me as a weird emotional wreck. But it was really touching.

"I'll be right back," he said. About five minutes later, he came back in with a bowl of dry cornflakes and a cup of water with a straw. "I brought cornflakes for us to share and water for us to share," he said, and placed them on the bed next to me. I was still feeling sleepy and I said, "Oh, thanks," and was about to drift off. "Maybe later, sweetie. Thank you."

He held a cornflake out to me. "Want a cornflake, mama?" he asked, handing me one. I couldn't help smiling. "Sure."

For the next few minutes he and I shared cornflakes, and took turns taking sips of the cold water he had pulled from the fridge filter himself. "It's fridge water," he said proudly. "Want a sip?" He turned the bendy straw toward me.

What a healing balm to my hurting heart, wondering again at that old rejection from a friend. The sweet attention of a three year-old feeding his mama cornflakes, one by one, each one restoring me.

It showed me that God is everywhere, in every person, even and especially the little messy ones.

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