Sitting in the back of a dark, quiet, theater, my daughter Lyla gasped much too loudly and grabbed my arm. “Look! Mommy, magic!”
A little startled, I looked up and behind us to where she pointed. There were the spotlights that were lighting up the performers onstage. Dust particles floated and swirled in the projected light causing my five-year-old to hyperventilate because she believed that she was witnessing actual magic!
I shushed her and told her it was just dust.
Why was I so quick to throw dust all over the magic?
What I want to do is to go back in time and lean into her face with my face and take it back and go crazy over the fact that we were seeing magic! Forget what I said about dust, it’s magic!
The reality is my kids do not need my help stifling the magic. Soon enough the magic of her childhood will the shrouded in dust. She will no longer see magic so easily. In fact, her world will become dustier. Difficult. Stressful. Painful even.
I already see this in her big brother. The “too cool” attitude is beginning to shroud my little boy who now refuses my kisses when the school bus is in view. I catch flashes of my future teenager in an 8-year-old’s body. I take solace in the fact that still, in the safety of our living room, he will climb into my lap and wrap his long limbs around me.
And yet already, he has learned that some words are swears. He refused to wear a tie to his Valentine dance because he was embarrassed. I see signs that he is beginning to compare his looks and smarts and talents to others. I am powerless to stop this whole growing up thing.
The other day I observed him from my post out the back window over the kitchen sink. His blonde head lit up against an evergreen background, hound dog at his side.
I watched him stoop to pick a dandelion from the lawn and blow the wishes into the wind–
A moment of pure, unaffected childhood.
I take that image of green, and blonde, and white, and save it deep in my mental motherhood time capsule.
There are so many things I never want to forget.
I never want to forget the feeling of the little spoon that climbs into bed beside me and tucks their warm back against my stomach. If only I could keep them there. Tucked in safely, as if back in the womb where I can protect them from the storm that is coming.
Don’t get me wrong, I love watching them grow. In my heart of hearts, I do want them to grow up. I want them to grow up and live beautiful, meaningful lives.
And yet, my heart aches as I watch the dust storm gathering strength in the distance, and It’s coming for them. The dust that will choke out the magic and turn the dandelions into mere weeds. Soon enough the magic of their childhood will be shrouded in the dust of memory and the heaviness of reality.
But isn’t that all each of us is? Dust?
From dust we were made, and to dust we will return.
I see it coming for my children. The dust storm.
It is inevitable. This cloud of dust. It caught up to each of us at one point or another. Some of us sooner than others. All of a sudden, we realize that there is pain in this world, and not everything is wonderful. Physical characteristics we never knew were less than functionally fine become sources of insecurity as we learn to compare. All at once there are more responsibilities and more expectations and grades and rules and consequences. Suddenly there is more to worry about. To think about. To carry.
As much as I want to shield them from the unavoidable dust blanket, I am committed to not falling into despair because of one thing I know–
Dust is the chosen medium of the Great Artist.
It was from dust that He formed his greatest work of art– a self- portrait that He gave breath and called good.
May the dust that envelopes the magic of my children’s early childhood bring with it a greater understanding of whose image each of them bears.
As they are covered in the dust of this world, it is opportunity for them to come to resemble our maker more and more.
Let them lament in a pile of dust over the pain that this world brings. May they have anguish over the things that hurt the heart of God. May they have eyes to see the injustice, the sorrow, the bondages, the corruption and may they cover their heads in the dust of lamentation.
It is through sitting in the dust and ashes of one another’s pain and struggles and acknowledging our own that we grow in understanding of what exactly our identity is intended to be, because through dust comes new creation. It is through pain and suffering that we learn to cry out to our creator.
The taking on of more dust gives more for His hands to work with.
Someday we will shake off the dust of this world from our feet. There will be no more pain. No more anxiety. No more corruption. No more injustice.
Until then, I take a breath and say a pleading prayer that my mama’s heart will eventually echo honestly the Great Artist’s review of the three, small, walking dust formations in whom I see so much of myself. However, it is not me that I ultimately want them to find their identity in.
I feel the grit in my teeth as I struggle to form the three words. Can I say them without adding a question mark? I long to believe that all the way through this storm of life and as the dust swirls around me and around those that I love, that indeed—
It is good.