Friday, January 20, 2012

Learning from the Wild Orange

If you know my Clementine (or even if you've only read about her here, or on facebook) you know: she's a real zinger. She's a mystery-surprise, and she challenges me in ways that Cade (or Charleigh, for that matter) never has. There are days when I think: Lord have mercy, just a little break from Clementine! But then she goes to sleep or leaves the room, and I want her back almost instantly.

Because she takes all the energy, light, movement, and sound with her.

I try to live with the question: what am I supposed to be learning from this little firecracker that no one else can teach me? And I get answers, sometimes, but mostly, I'm worn down, bit by bit, into a much calmer person. Because what choice do I have, really? It's chill or lose my ever-loving mind.

Clementine will turn three late next month. Last year, for her second birthday, I invited most everyone who plays an active role in her life, and it was a rip-roaring affair: a real hullabaloo. When it was over, I sent notes that said, mostly: "Thank you for celebrating Clementine's second birthday with us. I'm sorry to say I'm not sure which was your gift?, but Clementine loved all her presents, and she loves you. Thank you for doing life with us." Or some such.

Anyway, coming up on Clementine's Birthday #3, I said to Jim: "You know, we don't have to throw a huge party every year. What if we just invite Camden and Zach [the two children with whom the girls spend the most time] and their families for dinner and call it a day?"

Jim loved the idea, so I called Clementine to us and asked: "MeMe, who do you want to have over for your birthday, next month?"

I assumed, of course, that she'd name Camden and Zach.

But--without any hesitation, whatsoever--Clementine said: "Mike and Linda."

Jim and I just looked at one another, stunned, and smiled. I could feel the blessing in Clementine's answer run warm from my head to my toes, and I felt my heart swell.

Mike and Linda are almost exactly the ages of my parents, and--knowing that Jim's and my family members are far away--they've adopted us. We have many close friends here, but Mike and Linda are the friends with whom we spend holidays. They're the friends with whom we celebrate.

So the Wild Orange surprised me one more time, and she caused me to ponder two things in particular:

1) Children know (with whatever knowledge base they have) who loves them. Also, children consider those who love them to be their besties. They don't sort people based upon age, gender, race, education or income level, profession, etc. They sort people into three categories: those who love me, those who seem indifferent toward me, and those who don't seem to like me at all. It's that simple. How do we get away from this sorting, as we grow? I fight to continue looking, simply, for love; even so, I find myself longing to establish friendships with certain people who seem indifferent toward me...or who don't seem to like me at all. Why?

2) Every one of us has the opportunity to be that answer: to be the name spoken, without hesitation. To be the person most desired at the event, whatever it might be. How are we revealing the love of Christ both inside and outside our blood families? How are we opening our hearts, our homes, our lives to others?

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