… the ant hill incident opened my eyes to an evil I had previously relegated to time long ago, a snake in a garden far, far away. Ant armies illustrated the slithering, organized approach of evil’s shadowy tentacles…
Shiny things… horizons and mining mounds…
Biting pain… numbing, dimming soul… sure, we made it home.
A fact quickly forgotten. Only to focus on failure…and deadening hopes.
On another sunny afternoon, we found ourselves much closer to home. In fact, we nestled on a back porch. Hiding from the wind and sneaking water from the hose to make mud in barren planters, we attempted to pass time. Great-Grandma Ruth spotted us, and she made sure we had proper garden tools. She also sternly reminded us not to run the water hose. Get what we need, and shut it off. We nodded agreement, and she left us to return to her duties.
As we sat there, wind whistling around us, Jamie and I unearthed dirt clods and some decent four-year-old philosophical questions. Like, “Why do grown-ups want to know our favorite colors? Why do they make us eat food we don’t like? Why is the grown-up world and the children world so segregated? (I liked the kids’ table and all. Mainly, we escaped etiquette training when we sat to ourselves. But, I did listen in on enough conversations I wanted to talk, too.) Why do the women work they way they do, and why do the men work they way they do? (Although I often complained about our being tossed outside for hours at a time, I couldn’t begin to imagine working anywhere else… I preferred raking out the barn to pushing dust around the house- any day.) Why do we dress up for church? And why were we the only kids not allowed to run in or around the church?
As Jamie and I sat grabbing n’ squeezing, grabbing n’ squeezing until dirt darkened under our fingernails, Grandma Ruth approached us again. This time, she brought us each a pie tin. She asked, “Have you two ever made mud pies?” We looked at each other. Eyes wide. This time- adventure was coming to us. Although we were already fairly dirt-smudged at this point, we acknowledged our inexperience. And our eager readiness to experiment. Grandma helped us move mud into the tins. She told us that after we finished loading and decorating them, we could leave them in the sun to bake, too. Again, she left us to our “work.”
Jamie smoothed his heap meticulously. I impatiently attempted designs. I wanted mine done first (yes, that competitive). And mine needed to be prettier than his. However, his slices would be air hole-less and much more precise than mine. After a while of watching him smooth and re-smooth, I realized “I don’t even like to eat pie.” I liked to smell it. I liked to eat left-over crust baked with cinnamon and sugar. I even enjoyed watching other people eat pie. (Grown-ups make faces like children when they eat desserts.) I just didn’t like to eat it myself. So, how could I imagine even pretending to like this mud pie? Was all this just wasted time?
Jamie, on the other hand, enjoyed eating real pie. And he enjoyed this make-believe mess. He questioned, along with me, on many things that day… (and many days to come). The goodness of pie, however, was not up for question. So, we completed our mud pie projects and placed them on a sun-exposed ledge. And waited. And we waited. I touched mine. Baking? No way! It was as wet and gooey as ever. “This isn’t working!” I hastily complained. We waited some more.
Finally, we ventured through the wind to Grandma Ruth’s house to ask how long they would need to bake. She didn’t know. She didn’t know? A grown-up who suggested mud pie-making in the first place didn’t know the time they needed to solidify?!? She suggested going inside to clean up and check later. Jamie acquiesced to the suggestion while I complained the whole way back to the big house.
“Deep within every human heart throbs the undying hope that somebody or something will bring both an explanation of what life is all about and a way to retain the wonder.”
-Ravi Zacharias Recapture the Wonder p.13
continued… ant hills, mud pies, & rainy drives (part 4)
written by Heidi L. Paulec