This weekend Soldier and Joy were here with Liam and Laddie. Soldier spent most of his time building two redwood planting boxes for my future vegetables. The first day I helped him at the table saw in the surprisingly burning sun, but he was at it for twice as long by himself and appreciated the iced ginger ale that Joy carried out to him.
The second day he worked just as hard (after church) in spite of drizzle turning to rain, having to work in the dark at the end, and still without the satisfaction of completing the job. The rest of us (including a couple of friends off and on) had less work and probably more fun, feeding children and wiping them up, taking them to the potty, reading stories, putting them down for naps, calming quarrels, picking up matchbox cars and puzzle pieces, laughing and chasing, kissing and hugging.
It all reminded me of this poem, which I share with you because I can’t write a custom one that might more perfectly capture our own family’s contentedness.
The Continuous Life
What of the neighborhood homes awash
In a silver light, of children hunched in the bushes,
Watching the grown-ups for signs of surrender,
Signs that the irregular pleasures of moving
From day to day, of being adrift on the swell of duty,
Have run their course? O parents, confess
To your little ones the night is a long way off
And your taste for the mundane grows; tell them
Your worship of household chores has barely begun;
Describe the beauty of shovels and rakes, brooms and mops;
Say there will always be cooking and cleaning to do,
That one thing leads to another, which leads to another;
Explain that you live between two great darks, the first
With an ending, the second without one, that the luckiest
Thing is having been born, that you live in a blur
Of hours and days, months and years, and believe
It has meaning, despite the occasional fear
You are slipping away with nothing completed, nothing
To prove you existed. Tell the children to come inside,
That your search goes on for something you lost—a name,
A family album that fell from its own small matter
Into another, a piece of the dark that might have been yours,
You don’t really know. Say that each of you tries
To keep busy, learning to lean down close and hear
The careless breathing of earth and feel its available
Languor come over you, wave after wave, sending
Small tremors of love through your brief,
Undeniable selves, into your days, and beyond.