J Walking

J Walking

The ripping pain of innocence

Our young daughter is engaging the world and loving it. Now 3 and aware that only most of the universe revolves around her she is exploring the other creatures she runs across – particularly those her size. This means that she walks up to children and says, in a high, sweet, clear voice that emphasizes each syllable, “Hi! What’s your name? My name is….” and off she goes.
Kim and I find ourselves nearly doubled over by the sheer joy and innocence of it. There is a complete absence of anything corrupted in the questions, in the voice. It leaks wonder. And we can hardly stand it.
Sure we celebrate it. We laugh and we listen and we laugh some more. But in our ironic and cynical age, her innocence is all the more jarring. We already mourn its loss and all that will come before its loss. We long to hold it, protect it, bottle it before it is gone – if only to feed back to her one day.
Perhaps the greatest tragedy of all is that she will have no particular memory of it. Maybe that is the ripping pain of innocence – not its loss but its slow slide into forgotten memory.
But then, one day, hopefully, she will stand on a playground and watch her own daughter teeter confidently over to another child and say, “Hi! What’s your name? My name is….”
My prayer for her now is that in that moment she will remember her own innocence and celebrate it.

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posted July 29, 2008 at 7:35 am

Very nice. I wish her that as well.

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posted July 29, 2008 at 8:20 am

Great post.

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posted July 29, 2008 at 1:28 pm

A very, very long time ago – because I’m pretty darn old, I lived that innocent life. Must have been cute as a button, but at the age of three – I was the oldest of four children. My mother was young and very tired most of the time. Every Sunday we would go to Sunday School and I would get up in front of everyone and sing – Jesus Loves Me. I knew it was true. There was no other way for it to be. I sang that song for everyone and loved the response my performance. I was in Eden.
One day, my mother was busy at her sewing machine and I crept in and asked to play with a needle and thread in the pincushion. Being the ADHD kid that I was (and am), I must have gotten on my mom’s last nerve. So, I snuck the needle and thread out of the pincushion and went into my room and played “sewing” on the bedspread. My mother came in and saw what I was doing and grabbed it away. “Jesus doesn’t love little girls who lie and steal”, she said.
I never sang the song again. It took well over 40 years to recognize the incident for what it was, but the pain of that moment of leaving Eden was with me – even when I did not remember the story. My Mom was 24 years old with four babies and the oldest was a handful (that would be me). Her fatigue and frustration made those words come. She is the kindest and most loving woman I know. She does not remember that day or that statement. We lose innocence not by the deliberate acts of others for the most part, but because they don’t know any better. Or they are tired or anxious. I often think about what moment took Eden from my children. I suspect the cancer of our youngest took us all into exile for a good long time. But, remembering the innocent time when stories and prayers and tickles and giggles were so part of our day. It brings it back. And that is enough.

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posted July 29, 2008 at 3:46 pm

Children are here to help us remember what “love” is and that time when they are curious and delighted with their world.
Wish that it could be that way for all children….and adults.

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Brian aka New Age Cowboy

posted July 30, 2008 at 12:24 am

They put you downstairs on the Beliefnet homepage. I’m glad you’re still here.

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