As a boy, Dad’s mother Dora prayed with him every night, saying, “Bless the cost and worn.” He thought it a good thing to ask God to bless the cost and worn, whoever they were—their situation sounded grim. Sometime later, Dad asked her, “Mother, who are the cost and worn?” She looked quizzical, confessing she did not know. They thought and thought and repeated the phrase together numerous times, eventually realizing they had meant to be asking in prayer for those who had “cause to mourn.” Of course, God knew their hearts, and what they meant to say, and who the cost and worn were—and doubtless He accepted their petition. Again as a little boy, Dad was asked in his church primary class to offer a prayer. He stood dutifully in front of the class and ventured, “Heavenly Father, help us to beat the Japs.” While one would never refer to the noble Japanese people in that fashion today, eighty years ago, in 1942, that very prayer was on the lips and minds of tens of millions of people. Even a seven-year-old boy felt the weight of the great conflict that was World War II, and asked his God to end it. I have heard many testimonials from young children who prayed to find something they had lost, and immediately seeing in their mind, or feeling an impression about, where the lost thing was, and finding it precisely there. I have felt tempted to pooh-pooh this puerile witness of the Divine. But then I remember that God loves little children (and wants us older folks to be like them)—He wants to bless them, and appreciates their simple supplications as much or more than my own more complex concerns. Children love and have faith and hope. And what sweeter exercise of faith could one encounter than a small child turning to God in momentary distress. An excellent pattern we would do well to emulate our whole life long. The next time I lose my car keys, I will pray to God to help me find them. Tonight, I will pray for the cost and worn.
I have seven children: 7. They are mine. Or rather, they are my progeny. I do not possess them or control them, and would not if I could. I have 7 children, and they have me, for better or for worse, for they cannot ever claim another father or even another dad. I am what they got and what they get. And mostly they are okay with that. My 7 children each possess a great soul. They care about this world and its life and beauty and stories and its living creatures all. They care about the human family and its poverty and illiteracy and violence and illness and squalor. They study hard and they work hard. They are kind and generous and patient, and long-suffering. They are fun and funny and adventurous and smart. They call me Pops and Papa and Pappy and Dadda and sometimes even Father. Continue reading
Even a lizard enjoys a little spa time, and Amy sees that Sunshine does not go without. Being a creature of the Australian Outback desert, a warm bath is in order, followed by time lounging under the sun lamp. Isn’t his color gorgeous? All I can say is, if I were a bearded dragon, I would want Amy to be my human.
I experienced today, in church, a moment of purity, of innocence, of love, not due to any sermon or ritual or hymn, but as a gift from a small child.
I chanced to glance
at a little girl of three
in the pew:
she looked up at me,
an old man,
not comely to warrant,
and smiled a smile
bright as the spring sun
full on my face.
I could not refrain
and twisted a grin
in return, and found
stiff boughs bending.
colored pencils scratching
between the lines.
Roger is the author of Rabbit Lane: Memoir of a Country Road. The book tells the true life story of an obscure and magical farm road and its power to transform the human spirit. The book is available in print and for Kindle at Amazon. See Rabbit Lane reviewed in Words and Pictures.
All parents have had the experience of children wandering into their room late at night, afraid or disoriented, and asking, “Can I sleep with you?” Rather than be angry or annoyed, we merely laid out the spare quilts, sewn by the children’s grandmothers. And we all fell asleep again. Waking early for work, I tip-toed over and around my sleeping children. Home in the evening, their quilts lay on the floor like the discarded skins of pupaed caterpillars taken flight. I hope you enjoy my poem memorializing that recollection.
Three quilts lie in a corner of my room,
folded, again, neatly, again;
three queen-size quilts
sewn and tied by gifting grandmothers
who rest under blanketing memory,
leaving to me these warm tokens.
From night-sleep stupor,
I hear distantly the click of a switch, and a flush,
an apologetic knocking, and a whispered “Dad,”
more like the hiss of heavy breathing than a name.
In my knowing, I find the corners
of a folded quilt and toss it out its full length
upon the floor, by the bed, where there’s room.
I could order them back to their beds, but
there seems to always be room.
In the obscurity of my morning,
I have sense enough
to step gingerly over and around
the boys, asleep in their quilted cocoons;
my boys, rising each day
with a deep life-breath yawn and
a stretching of slumber-stiff limbs,
flying from their crumpled quilts,
like the discarded skins of metamorphosis, with
only air and sky ahead.
The mere thought of adding to the Christmas repertoire intimidated me from making the attempt. But one quiet evening, as Christmas approached, I began to think of the baby Jesus, and to hum. I thought of the star and the heavenly choir, of the Magi and their gifts, and of Mary holding her child wrapped in rags. The Christmas lullaby “Nativity” arose from my musings. Here is the sheet music for you to enjoy: Nativity. Sing it softly to your own little ones as you put them to bed.
My children, when they were young, liked to be put to bed with a song. I composed many little lullabies and songs, some of which are posted on this blog. I tried to compose tunes and lyrics that would sooth and inspire each child. But sometimes I composed something to just make them smile and laugh. “Dreaming” is one such song and contemplates a child’s nonsensical but humorous dreams, ending with mother’s call to wake up in the morning. I hope you enjoy it! Click here for the sheet music: Dreaming.
In a safe environment, a child can see the world with wonder. He or she encounters the smiles and waves of a parent, loose garden soil between the toes, butterflies on flower blossoms, and being tucked into bed with a story or a lullaby. I wrote the song “Look Out the Window” after one of my children called to me from an upstairs window while I worked in the garden. She was happy to see me–“Hi Daddy!”–and raced down the stairs to join me in the garden. Every child deserves to be safe and to be loved, and to see the world with wonder. Here is the link to the sheet music to Look Out the Window.
—What I like best is being with you.—
The hour was 10 p.m., long after the children’s bed times. I had come home late from city council meeting, and had settled into the sofa with cookies and cold milk, Grandma Lucille’s crocheted afghan over my lap, and a book of Sherlock Holmes mysteries in my hand. Finally, it was time for a little quiet enjoyment. Continue reading