I am blessed with a sensitive, imaginative little boy. This is so delicious and such a joy on so many levels — he is so tender with his peers, so kind to his sister. His touches can be a salve to my aches. I envy his creative passion, his drive to find God in everything in his world. But there is an underbelly of this is a heightened sensitivity for things unknown: new experiences can create such anxiety for him, and the intangible conceptual stuff can be scary in monumental proportions. He has his lifetime to figure out how to navigate this stuff, but in these early years, in these tender moments, I get to help him sort through it, too.
Which leads me to the events of yesterday: we had an earthquake. Our stone house, thick walls heavy with plaster and sixty years of earth to hold it down, did a silly little dance as the ground beneath it stretched out her legs, shook off her own dust. This is something that I never thought I would experience, and for me, it was all rather comical. It was so minor, so trivial — I almost wanted to do it again! (I am not trying to minimize what a real, big and scary thing this would be if it caused damage and destruction. We were fortunate). This is surely one thing that will be recorded in the little ones’ journals; I will note it in my calendar. It may be the only earthquake I ever experience, being a solid East Coast family.
You can only imagine how differently the Eldest felt about this quake. Last week we had a string of thunderstorms and heavy rain, with fear welling up into his sleep, and lots of worried talk about storms during his waking hours. And of course, it is just as we were thinking about settling those storms-creations, he experiences nothing I could ever have prepared him for. It was “quiet time” in our house, and his whole bed shook. The door next to his bed shook. Things rumbled. And he cried out with his whole being.
With both little ones bundled in my arms, I did a thorough walk-around, checking every corner of our house. After all passed the Eldest’s diligent inspection, I returned the little ones to their rooms and had a moment or two of quiet for all. It wasn’t until after quiet time that the questions began to pour in: what was that? What happened? Why did it happen? Would it happen again? All to be expected. Some were entertaining: he wanted to know if the “earthtwig” had a beard. He wanted to know if we could dig it up from under the ground. I struggled with how to described something that happened as different than something that exists. But it gave me a window into his beautiful, thoughtful, creatively smart mind.
I was not home for bed time last night, but my husband reported, not surprisingly, a little boy who needed extra love, and his father’s tender man-hands to tuck him in with deep reassurance. Once asleep, though, he slept well, only waking this morning to discuss more about earthquakes. Today he showed me with his hands how the plates of the earth shift. I expect that we will have many, many conversations, art projects, and nightmares before our aftershocks die down. All of this I know will help him integrate his experience and ultimately give him confidence and strength for the next unknown. In my best moments, I carry grace wisely, and patience thickly. In between, I send up my prayers of thanksgiving for this precious little boy, so tender hearted and raw; I step back so that I don’t squash that openness. Mostly, I point him to the One who created it all: “Do not be afraid — I am with you! I am your God — let nothing terrify you!I will make you strong and help you; I will protect you and save you.” (Isaiah 41:10)
And I know that next week there will be more storms to weather.