The other night, as we sat around the dinner table eating pork chops and mushrooms, our daughter looked down at her plate and stopped talking for a moment. She had just been singing about something that had happened at school that afternoon, so her silence confused me.
“You okay, kiddo?” I said, reaching out to pat her hand.
She nodded, then started talking about a friend of hers. She and this other little one have been the dearest of friends, joined at the hip, so madly in love with each other that they told everyone they knew for months that they are getting married someday. But lately, there have been fewer playdates, a bit less time together. They still climb trees and swing and make up imaginary games. But there has been a bit of…lessening. We asked Lu what was wrong.
She talked about her friend’s cautious nature, the way she clings to the side of the pool instead of swimming, the way she admonishes Lu when she’s doing something her friend thinks is risky. We talked for a bit, explained that it’s in her friend’s nature to be more guarded. Could she still love her friend, even though they are so different? Yes, of course, she expressed.
And then she said this, sighing: “I just love the world. My friend is more scared of the world than she loves it. I don’t know how to convince her to love it more.”
Sometimes that kid blows me away.
I’ve been thinking about that conversation ever since. How much Lu — and Danny and I — love the world. It’s in Lu’s nature to be ebullient, fearless, and in love with everyone she meets. It’s how she entered this world, I believe. And I just love her wish: to teach her friend to love the world more than fear it.
I’ve also been thinking about a talk I heard a few weeks ago, given by a rabbi visiting our Unitarian fellowship. She told a creation story, that the creator was so full of light that the entire universe was full. Breath held, an empty space formed. And that space was filled with our world and humans, made up of shards of light from the creator. Our job is to reunite what has been broken. To collect the shards of light. To gather the sparks and return them to creation. We all choose to gather light in whatever way fits us. There’s plenty of brokenness to go around, after all.
But it’s that brokenness, that fear of the world, that seems to dominate media, social and otherwise. We dwell on horrible stories. Celebrity gossip — my goodness, what a waste of time. And I feel like most of us must elbow our way to find a place in this world, with SEO rewards and more money and shiniest hair, because we forget we’re just supposed to be collecting light.
Oh goodness, I should say something funny. This has all grown a little deep. But this is where I’m standing today, hands open, just looking for shards to grab.
Here are some stories that moved me this week. Maybe they’ll work for you too.