Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Jostling, loud, and in your face

Everyone's home and screeching. My three year old's screeching at her five year old sister; her sister is screeching right back; and their daddy's just had a well-deserved shout at them both. The baby's providing a grizzly undercurrent, and I'm biting my lip not to join them all.

You see, I'm off duty; it's my writing time so I'm not allowed to get involved. Instead, I'm bunkered down with the study door shut, wincing at every piercing shriek and trying to reflect on the presence of the holy in the mundane. Hah. It's much easier to do when the mundane is asleep, or at school, or out for a walk.

I'm fascinated by the spirituality of everyday life. Like so many writers, I prose on and on about becoming like children in order to experience it. But we so often assume well-behaved, quiet, polite children. The sort of children who are entranced by a spider's web, or a particularly splashy puddle; who become absorbed digging in the sand pit or making a pattern of leaves.

But these same children, my children, can also be energetic ratty slightly sick children, grumpy children, selfish children, children going through a stage. They're full of an aggressive exuberance which drives us round the bend; they snatch and grab and squabble and yell; and their boundary testing makes me want to scream and reach for the red wine every night.

Are we only spiritually alive in moments of unconscious playfulness, like happy healthy relaxed children? Or is there something for us to learn here too? Should we also be like grumpy children, demanding children, screeching children? Jostling, loud, and in your face? Perhaps there are things we could learn if we would only let ourselves be fierce from time to time, if we'd only let our ambitions walk round naked and stop being so damn polite.


  1. Dear Alison,

    I read inward/outward every day and this morning, you spoke to me! Like you, I live in Melbourne and here is my comment on your writings - thank you for taking time to write. Thanks to your husband too, as he dealt with the 5 yr old, the 3 yr old and the baby. My daughter's husband also deals with their 3 children so my daughter can study. This is how it should be. Good on both husbands. Alison, thank you for writing and please keep writing.

    I have been journalling (actually, writing letters to God) since 1976. Wow - 39 yrs! My journalling has often kept me steady during times of upheaval, lonelinenss and illhealth. Right now I'm being treated for a T-cell lymphoma so writing has again become very important. Your piece about becoming involved with children and their reading inspired me and I'm glad you're doing it and glad you wrote about doing it. Keep going. Don't stop. On behalf of the children, thank you.

    Your fellow Melbourne traveler, Julie Renner of Blackburn.

  2. Dear Julie, Thank you for your warm words of encouragement - and good on those husbands, certainly! Blogging is my form of journalling, providing the discipline I need to reflect on life. I find writing helps me stay authentic, something very important in times of chaos or ill health, and I hope you find this too in your letters to God. Keep writing yourself! Peace and hope in this difficult time, Alison.


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