For me the world has always been riddles, rhymes, and glories.

I was born in a time of War. Pain and hurt, hope and thanksgiving.

Where everything was, but was not, changing, dying, being born.

Adulthood always made me a bit sad, estranged from being and belonging, feeling that all the things I had found were really things I had lost and had to find again.

 

Before I was six-

 

heard God speak from the sun clouds touching the Prairie on the lands over the River by the Big bridge; where He told me that all things, everything you could really see if you wanted to, were warm and so beautiful that it was too beautiful to really look at but you could see it everywhere and it would always be there anyway, whenever you looked;

 

saw danger alone at the Creek on secret paths I found in the tangle willows

down where the Indian trail was

and had gone away somewhere

before they built the Log Cabin Diner

over the place where the Old Trade store was;

and discovered that

grownups are afraid a lot

even though they don’t look like it;

 

when I walked through the neighbor’s farm yard,

the dog would just run up and bite me then go away. I don’t think he was mad at me, he seemed strange like you get when you’re lonely;

I wanted anyway to go there, the big barn with its smell of hay, the dark inside with the rafters way up, and the dog.

We would meet there,

it was my first place outside my yard;

 

saw a girl, she had yellow hair and wore puffy white dresses,

and lived in a big house across the road, on the edge of the Woods where the Creek went under the Little Bridge;

I wanted to follow her every where

and see it make the trees and grasses

and everything different,

and was sad and happy about that,

but we made Snow Angels,

and I learned what eyes meant-

how they shine

like knowing a secret,

and can talk like all the beautiful things do;

I gave her some white flowers once.

 

ran away from home

with my favorite piece of iron

that was really strong and would keep everything bad away,

and I saw the far away fields; 

stopped to say goodbye to the man at the Big Store

where the town stopped, he gave me some candy from the jar,

I liked the red ones but not the black ones,

I don’t remember coming back again;

 

found that really old people, the ones who sit in chairs on porches,

and knew how to fix broken things,

could love everything in a way that made you feel

that life was good and always,

and you could always come back, even with things that were broken;

 

met a girl who lived by the Big Road and had red hair and was six and taller than I was

who walked like a deer in the sunlight and suddenly

whirling and twirling look back and laugh,

she could watch the Creek for a long time and knew all its places,

I was sad because I would never know what she knew,

I was sad because I wanted to be her;

 

could hear the Prairie cry,

hear all the slowly dying and disappearing

going on down beyond the River,

and I knew that the River loved the Prairie for its flowers and the colors it could flow through,

and I loved it too,

but it was going away anyway, forever,

and knew then when I went to the very end of the field

that the world, even the one you couldn’t see so many miles over the Stone Farm,

was going away too;

 

loved the lonely walking

up the rock road outside town

to the Cemetery on the Hill

where you could see the flowers put there weren’t from the Prairie or from down by the Creek,

and see the black iron fence around seven same graves where sometimes dark things were even in the day, and how it made you want to see it

there under the earth was a whole family who died a long time ago

in the high water  from the Creek in Spring

and I liked to hide them in my arms;

 

see the Blacksmiths near the so old willow, filled with ringing sounds and scary things like ghosts moving in the dark and fire, there were two men with wet faces stilling the horses,

where the hissing red iron turned black and hard

when the smaller one put it down into the bucket

and the steam floated up with the smoke

to the black rafters in the dark

and the other whispered to the big brown horse;

 

went with my grandmother to the Big City to what they called a Movie,

she said it would be fun, it was about a dog;

inside it was so big and dark but not like at night which is the best dark,

and there were lots of people

even more than then when we have the Fall Festival at the Park near the Cemetery;

then suddenly in a big light on the wall there were people and a dog,

big like giants,

all doing things and saying things,

but the people and the dogs weren’t like real people or dogs,

and they were always happy or shouting or unhappy but they were just pretending,

I hid my head down under the seats and covered my ears,

some people think that it is fun with people and dogs in the dark that aren’t real,

but it’s just scary;

 

learned how Creeks belonged to anyone

who dared to follow them into the Woods

where there were secret places

that no one had ever seen before,

and you could hide there

until you didn’t want to anymore,

where you could get lost

and find your way home anyway,

and that the Rivers belonged to everybody

but didn't like the grown ups

who made the Rivers work for them

until they got all brown

and smelly,

and you always felt that you were

alone because you knew

more then the grownups

who did things like that to the Rivers;

 

 

learned that anybody named ‘Junior’

was someone who didn’t have a real name

but maybe one day somebody would give him a name

that we all would call him,

but you never really knew;

 

see my mother always look up the hill on the way to town

to the old log cabin she had taught school in;

I was sad that the Big Road

with its tarry black lines,

had passed it by

leaving it alone by itself on the hill,

and we wouldn’t really trust the new roads

but we liked them because they went everywhere that you might want to go;

 

and the Big Road with fast cars

that went past my grandmother’s house

and went to the City you couldn’t see from here

but that everybody talked about

but didn’t want to move to except for one who did and who everybody still talked about;

 

but my great-grand mother who lived by the River near the City and liked snakes and rabbits and was rich, and died, so we got a little house in the City she gave us and had to move; the grownups lie a lot about how much you’ll like things, but they can’t help it, they want things to be the way they want them; our cat ran away so it wouldn’t have to move; I ran away too but it was a long way back and I didn’t know the way.

 

The tragedy with adults is that they are all playing a game but don’t know it. Unlike children, they have to keep playing the game because they no longer know any better or don’t dare to come in and stop playing for a while.

The child knows the difference between the game and the Other. When mother calls- ‘come in now’, we stop playing and enter into a place where all is truly possible, where we can put down the burdens of our heroism, where all has a real future precisely because everything’s a mystery with nothing worked out, nothing for certain- it’s pure experience, pure anticipation, pure possibility, pure life, and slightly scary.

This knowing lives in the depths of every heart. It is the source of every true longing, and is a way to experience authenticity without rejecting the game. Every human will respond to the call of the game- ‘come out and play, let’s make up!’ for the game is the sacred image of the Other. But only the ‘child’ will know the difference, know when to come in and stop playing for now, will be able to know that he is both distinct from, but still able to discover himself, through the game that he plays with all its passions of joy and sorrow until he is at last called to stop playing and come in now.

 

David Russell OFS

Tucson Arizona