Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Clouds, Rainbows, and Stick Figures

When adult life seems confusing and overwhelming, sometimes it is helpful to step back in time and remember what our world looked like when we were six or so. Life was simple. We trusted most people. We believed we were loved unconditionally. Everyone around us was concerned with our happiness and well being. And, crayons and creativity were a part of every day.

Our simplistic perception of life was reflected in all those crayon renderings of the world around us that were displayed in that place of honor – the refrigerator door. People in our pictures were stick figures. They may be black or green or red or blue. It really didn't matter. Most of them did not have clothes, probably because how people dressed was not a big deal to six-year olds. Our people maybe had fingers and/or toes – somewhere between two and seven on each appendage. Or, maybe they didn't. That didn't matter either. Trees full of ripe apples were often in our drawings. Rainbows, with or without rain, were also common because when drawing a rainbow we could use six of the eight crayons in the box. Oh, there were the kids who had black and brown in their rainbows and that was OK too. If the rainbow was accompanied by rain, the picture had black scalloped-edged clouds with black sheets of rain. Or, rain was also drawn without the clouds. Most often it was then represented by big blue drops that fell on brightly colored flowers that smiled up at them from lush green grass. You may remember that in these drawings, the sun was always smiling and the moon was often sleeping. Most of the time, we only drew half of the moon because if we drew a full moon, it would look like the sun. Did we know about the phases of the moon at six?

After dinner this evening, I was struck by a seemingly sudden change of light. Just as I was about to comment, Erin came in to the room and announced that we were about to have storms. She had gotten a text message from a friend who lives a little southeast of us where it was already raining. I picked up my camera and went outside. (There is no logical explanation as to why this was my response.)

As I looked around, the world looked like it did forty some years ago when I was six but instead of preserving the images I see with crayons and paper, I am now using my camera. In reality, the final product is not much different. Though intellectually I know that nothing is really simple, for a few moments tonight I felt like storm clouds are pretty and frilly, every picture should have a rainbow, and the sun is always smiling.

Though it is hard to see in this picture, I know that the sun that is slipping down on the horizon is smiling.

The rain falls as dark sheets.

Storm clouds are pretty and scalloped.

And, the moon is not round like the sun.

In the midst of mid-life, it is hard to remember this long ago simple world, a life before we had experienced any real hurt or heartache. I am still overwhelmed by the questions that I mentioned in my last post. My search for answers consumes my thoughts, but I do not really feel burdened by the questions themselves. I am trying to be present in each moment. I have faith that in this, the answers will be revealed.