Have you ever felt that little nudge, a small feeling that's almost imperceptible, as though someone, somewhere is watching you? Now I don't want to seem paranoid, because I'm not, really. It's just that lately Baby Bejesus has been following me around. He turns up in the strangest places. One day he was lying under the kitchen table and I caught him staring up at me as I ate a grilled cheese sandwich. The next day I found him sitting on the bathroom counter next to the soap dispenser. Later I sat down on the couch to read and reflect only to be poked in the behind by guess who? Baby Bejesus. You know, I thought we were past all this. While it's true he spent more than a year decapitated in my kitchen junk drawer, I did finally glue his head back on. It seemed wrong each time I opened that drawer and saw him there, headless, and then heard his head rolling around when I quickly closed the drawer again. For clarity I should probably go back to the beginning, back to the day Baby Bejesus first came into our lives.
He wasn't always called Baby Bejesus, he was given that name later, just before the accident. How is happened, no one really knows for sure. One day, around Christmas, he was laying in his manger, intact. He was surrounded by his other Playmobile manger mates; Mary, Joseph, a cow, an ass, the wise men and their gifts. The holy family and their entourage had been making their appearance once a year at Christmas time for about a decade, ever since our boys were babies. Now it is true, as a younger mother I was much more rigid about how things were kept and taken care of. After Christmas everything would be whisked away and stored until the next year. By the time our daughter, Chloe, was born, six and a half years after our youngest son Noah, I was more relaxed in my parenting. Time had mellowed me. Okay, the truth is I am now exhausted and old, and how things are kept isn't my top priority anymore. By Chloe's third Christmas she had discovered the Christmas manger and fell in love with her 'Baby Bejesus'. That's what she called him. We tried to correct her, it seemed wrong to call him that even if he is just a small, plastic figure with swaddling clothes painted on. But there was nothing for it, she would call him Baby Bejesus. Her innocence in naming him combined with her love couldn't be wrong, right? She played with Baby Bejesus and the crew for the balance of the year, they had many wonderful adventures. By the time Christmas rolled around again and the manger pieces were finally rounded up, Baby Bejesus was placed lovingly in his manger, but oh dear, where was his head?
In an attempt to divert an emotional meltdown I reassured Chloe that his head would be found, he would be repaired and he would reappear on Christmas morning safely cradled in his manger. This solution was agreeable. His head was eventually recovered and my intention was to follow through with my promise. Unfortunately, with all of the Christmas preparation and festivities, who had time to think about Baby Bejesus? Christmas day came and went leaving Baby Bejesus and his head lolling around in my junk drawer. So now you know the whole story and perhaps can better understand my dilemma. Baby Bejesus, now that he has his head, has been following me around. Even as I write these words he is patiently sitting on my kitchen window sill next to a basket of bread. He keeps showing up as if there is something he wants me to remember.
Over the past several years the theme of my life seems to be letting go. Letting go of things I believed I needed and saying goodbye to people I love. These things and people brought definition and purpose to my life and without them I have forgotten how to stand, how to sleep, sometimes how to breathe. Perhaps 'letting go' is not accurate as it implies a willingness on my part to open my hands. In truth I have fought desperately to hold-on and have experienced tremendous pain and heartache as those pieces of my life have been wrenched away. I am wounded.
Now I am still baking cookies, as Baby Bejesus can attest to, peanut butter most recently. If you were to look into my life you would find the rhythm soothing and methodical. I have become very good at going through the motions of life. But deep down beneath the surface I am falling, falling, falling.
Many years ago I found a poem that put into words the desire of my heart. The poem is by Jane Cooper and is called Rent. The last part of the poem goes like this:I don't want your rent, I want a radiance of attention, like the candle's flame when we eat. I mean a kind of awe attending the spaces between us, not a roof, but a field of stars.
I have been searching a lifetime for my field of stars. Maybe that's what Baby Bejesus wants me to remember, that although I am falling I am living in my field of stars, too. Both things are true. The creator of the universe is in the falling and the field, and no matter what happens, no matter where I go, I am home.