Baby it's cold outside. Cousin winter blew into town like an uninvited guest and brought the old ice-skating-rink-in-a-box with him. He spilled that skating rink across the entire town, looked at the children and said, "let's call school off and party down! Ain't this a gas!"
A gas. Sure.
The boys have been out of school for two days now and Amber has been on the other side of the world. She's exploring Jerusalem and getting to know the people there, seeing the sights, walking the Old Town. We were exchanging messages last night, and she said, "there's so much to learn I think my head might explode." I looked out the window, saw the snow piling up, and heard the children screaming with delight at the announcement of today's school closing. They ran through the house like caffeine-infused squirrels, laughing. "My head might explode too," I said, "just for different reasons."
Yesterday, the boys came to the office with me because our baby sitter couldn't make her shift due to the inclement weather. All four wheels engaged, I trucked us eight miles to my office. The boys oohed and awed over the falling snow while I did my best to keep us between the ditches. This is the work of single parenting, I think. Just keep it between the ditches.
I finalized reports there at the office and the boys constructed Minecraft cities. Generally speaking, I think Minecraft is a soul-sucking, brain-melting, addiction-inducing thing. Yesterday, though, it made my list of favorite common graces. And when I was finished with my reporting and they with their construction projects, I said, "let's find a restaurant." Another dizzying cheer of joy rang out in my very small office.
There was only one restaurant open in town. La Heurta is the Mexican joint that sits right next to one of Fayetteville's local gentleman's clubs. As we pulled into the restaurant parking lot, Isaac asked why there was a club that was only for gentlemen. I said, "there's nothing gentlemanly about that club, son." He pepeppered me with questions, his 10 year old brain trying to make sense of a men's only club that sported a logo of a woman reclining in a martini glass. I didn't have the heart to tell him that it was a club where women negotiated feigned affection; I didn't have the heart to tell him that gentlemen have been making sport of exploiting these women for millennia. He's only 10. Shouldn't a child be allowed his innocence for a time?
[tweetherder]Innocence is a gift.[/tweetherder]
After supper we made our way back to the house and sat in the living room to read Shawn Smucker's new offering, The Day The Angels Fell. We read a chapter about innocence, how it is found in the eyes of a lamb, or in the heart of a pre-teen girl. We read about the sacrifice of innocence, too, how evil tries to snuff out any pure thing. I read, and the boys listened, eyes wide. They were not taking the metaphor in, but I was. I considered the ways in which this world attempts to steal the doe eyes of boys, the ways in which it hopes to turn them into gentlemen too soon. This is lamentable.
I tucked them in and prayed over them. Turning off the lights, I glanced at photos of Amber streaming from Israel. She and the rest of the women wore the glow of joy. They were awake when they'd otherwise be asleep and did not show the signs of jetlag. I, on the other hand, walked to my bed and crashed face-down, surely suffering from some sort of parental jetlag.
I tried a quiet prayer for my sons before I drifted to sleep in my jeans, but I didn't make it past the "dear God." I slept hard, dreamed of lambs and boys, dreamed of slaughter but also resurrection. I dreamed of the hope that might rescue every gentleman, even those yet to be born. I dreamed of innocence, dreamed that it was fashionable again. And in this way, I suppose I dreamed well.
In this month's Tiny Letter (my once-a-month, insider newsletter delivered straight to your email), I'm discussing the Lenten season, the darkness of my heart, and the discipline of quiet reflection. If you sign up today, you'll receive a FREE DOWNLOAD of the song "Train Wreck." It's a song I wrote about pain, loss, and the love of God.