A worthy pastime

Clanging through the gray skies trying to turn blue, the town siren sounds. “It’s noon! It’s noon,” Isaac says as his dinosaurs crash into one another.

“It’s NOT noon,” Charlotte replies with her fists closed together and the stomp of her foot.

Standing between them I see tears forming on both their faces. I take a deep breath as the siren continues to ring.

“It’s noon, Charlotte,” Isaac keeps repeating.

“NO!” Charlotte turns inside and slams the door.

Over lunch I grab a book of poems and open to Mary Oliver’s Why I Wake Early.

On a summer morning
I sat down
On a hillside
To think about God -

“Move, Charlotte!” Isaac says and pushes Charlotte’s hands away from his plate.

“I’m playing,” she replies.


A worthy pastime.
Near me, I saw
A single cricket;
It was moving that grains of a hillside

I try to think of God as Mary Oliver recommends despite not being outside on a hillside but rather surrounded by my children’s arguments. I try to picture God’s presence surrounding me as I take a deep breath.

This way and that way.
How great was its energy,
How humble its effort.
Let us hope

It will always be like this,
Each of us going on
In our explicable ways
Building the universe.

A few minutes later, with dishes piled on the counter and bellies full, the kids find their dinosaurs and trucks. On top of the couch they’ve created a construction site building with their imagination, dreaming dreams, and bringing to life a new world.

I sit and watch them play from my chair on this summer day.

A worthy pastime, indeed, for all of us.