I've been trying to get an upper hand on this post today. So much to consider - the Feast of All Souls' Day; it's the second day of November, a tempestuous month; it is two days past the gluttony of Halloween and twenty-four days until the comfort of Thanksgiving and a mere fifty-two days and ten hours and seventeen minutes and four seconds until the gift that, behind all the stuff, is Christmas.
I don't see a clever way to get all that in today, so, screw it... I'll do this instead.
|A Bug and a Bee '05 & '06|
|Pink Zebra and Yellow Bunny '08 & '09|
|Angel and Devil '09|
|A Cowboy and a Pirate '10|
|A Bat and a Skeleton '12|
|A Mime and a Scarecrow '13|
|A Bankrobber and a Clown '14|
|A Cow-boy "Literally" and a Hippie (not Dad) '15|
I can't imagine what I should say about this series of images. Well, that's not true, actually, I can think of dozens of things. In fact, I'd guess I could write a novel-length piece on them, stories within stories. The story of the "wizard sticks" that went along that year. The mime whispering "Timeout. Can mimes hum?" The time we went to their preschool party and they made folks weep in their Bunny and Zebra costumes. True story. The tool boxes they treasured and used as their goodie buckets that year. Bones falling from skeletons, makeup running in a cold rain, the clever incorporation of an old black umbrella in a bat costume, the ancient silliness of a boy dressed as a scarecrow, raffia straw tickling bellies and faces.
I could bend it all so easily and expose the love story that lies beneath each costume, each smile. The love song that is a mother tenderly crafting costumes year after year so two little boys would be happy, will linger a lifetime. The love story that is hands held in the twilight, words of encouragement to a boy afraid of the doors and stranger and scary decorations. The gentle reminders - to say thank you and to let the little ones go first and to be careful, and carefree and wild - last like letters in an old trunk, love letters from a past that once was now.
Yes, a past that once was now... I see these individually and remember each story, each year, but, perhaps, the bigger picture is in the march through time the whole represents. I constantly see time as an enemy. It is, he is, she is, not. Without the journey through the seasons and years, I wouldn't be able to see the whole of it. The completeness of it. The journey that is life, that is childhood, simply must play out, as it always has, with time as its ally. Each shutterclick piled on one another is the essence of time.
There is one final frame I might use here, it's a little more complicated. In her beautiful, lyrical novel, Gideon, Marilynne Robinson says- speaking in the voice of her main character who is writing a long memoir to his young son, the old and holy and dying pastor, John Ames:
"For me writing has always felt like praying, even when I wasn't writing prayers, as I was often enough. You feel that you are with someone. I feel I am with you now, whatever that can mean, considering that you are only a little fellow now and when you're a man you might find these letters of no interest. Or they might never reach you, for any number of reasons. Well, but how deeply I regret any sadness you have suffered and how grateful I am in anticipation of any good you have enjoyed. That is to say, I pray for you. And there is an intimacy in it. That's the truth."
I have often called this thing I am doing here a long love letter to my sons, maybe the truth is, as Mr. Ames suggests, more than that. Perhaps this is a long prayer for these boys - my boys, your boys, our boys, all boys.
Thanks for coming around, I've got to go meet a bus and start thinking about the next story, the next love letter, the next prayer.
Peace to you, peace to us.