Yesterday morning, I and my grandson, Elias John Mains, skipped church. It was an exquisite September day, the ground kissed with early light; David, my husband, is overseas in Kenya. A busy week had prevented me from making time for my seasonal gathering—clipping tall swamp grass, beaded dock and fuzzy cattails that I combine with artificial sunflowers from Hobby Lobby and realistic-looking but plastic pumpkins for the arrangement on my front porch.
It’s all too easy to cram grandkids into our adult schedules and something told me that the holiest way I could pass this morning with this grandchild was to go out into the fields and gather—Elias is delighted with the natural world. “Let’s go clip cattails,” I said.
“Oh, Nina,” he said. “I love cattails!”
So we did. We found stands of tall grass, clipped enough to fill the natural wood basket I had hauled home one year from West Virginia. We found the cattail pond, stopped at McDonald’s for breakfast, then parked our car to take a walk down the Prairie Path—the old Chicago, Aurora & Elgin train line that has now been turned into a pedestrian path for strollers and joggers (and for bikers and for the few horseback riders who still exist in our area). We brought the hand-clippers and began snipping enough late summer weeds, some blooming and some past bloom, sections of curling vines and interesting branchets—field daisies, rose hips, all wild things happily living their cycle of life out in the proper season of life.
These all were for a bouquet—Elias pronounced the T. After several false pronunciations, I corrected him and explained that bouquet was a French word and in France, the consonant at the end of the world was not pronounced. “We have a lot of foreign words in our language because people have brought their words with them when they came to America,” I explained. “We think they are English words, and sometimes we speak them in English ways, but we have become so used to them we forget that they are not really English words.”
“Oh, like placate,” Elias responded. He had been studying Julius Caesar in school. “Yes, that is a Latin word, and in Latin, it would be pronounced pla-ca-te,” I explained. Who could have imagined that this walking in the exquisite morning world would have included a discussion on etymology with a nine-year old? This is why I love spending time with children; they are always so much smarter then we think they are.
We watched a flock of Canada geese fly overhead and form a V-wedge. We noticed grasshoppers hopping in the sunshine. We clipped enough for two bouquets (pronounced the French way now)—one large bouquet and one smaller. Elias is a chatterbox with many intriguing thoughts bouncing around in his mind—a startling good mind. So, I love to get him alone, relaxed, and without distractions. I never quite know where our conversations are going to go. Tracing our way back the Prairie Path, he slipped his hand into mine and we carefully watched for bikers who were now more frequent as the day aged. “Biker behind us,” Elias warned. “I saw a flash of metal.”
When we returned home we went to the back patio and arranged the larger plants in the earthenware jug and the smaller in the Chinese teapot—Elias took joy in filling the containers, and I slipped in some late summer roses from my garden.
“They look good, don’t they Nina?” Yes, indeed. Our hodgepodge of late summer cuttings looked great. I hoped I would have time to gather a larger, more spectacular group sometime in the week. “You know, Elias. Everything God has made is beautiful in its own way.” And that is true for those who have eyes to see, who take the time to attend, and who care to step in the rhythm of life, each season at its turning, each month in its appropriate calendar place, each week, each day—morning, noon and evening.
Each creature—animal or plant or human—is beautiful in its own created way.
I am a person who finds the Presence of God in the natural world. I am enthralled, filled with awe, full of praise in my garden, at the seaside, before a grand mountain and walking along the Prairie Path in Illinois with a nine-year-old grandson’s hand in mine.
It is beautiful.
Come to this dance that is life, join in the steps, join hands with others who walk beside you and sing the praises of the One who teaches us the steps. (And if you can, take a child’s hand as you do.)
I danced in the morning when the world was begun,
And I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun,
And I came down from heaven and I danced on the earth
—at Bethlehem I had my birth.
Dance, then, wherever you may be.
I am the Lord of the Dance said he,
And I lead you all, wherever you may be
And I lead you all in the dance, said he.
Other projects involving Karen Mains right now:
Karen Mains is creating a teleconference curriculum on “Personal Memoir Writing” to post on her Web site,www.KarenBurtonMains.com in an attempt to create a distance learning mentor writing project to help other “Wannabe (Better) Writers” get published. Additionally, she and her husband, David, are hoping to lead a Christian trip to Kenya next March for the purpose of developing micro-enterprise projects.