Friday, January 27, 2012

A Children's Book

For the past six years, I've spend most of my reading time in picture books.

My son who loves all action, and regularly asks me to tell him a story that includes him, his best friend Stevie, and light sabers... is content with almost anything I read him. I would say it soothes both of us, and brings us into rest. Maybe we've found our niche, he and I, in the rythyms of my voice, the turn of pages. I suspect that much of the time all this book reading is nothing but any easy conduit for a connection we often feel challenging and difficult. But sometimes for me, and I'm sure for him, there's a magic in these picture books that is as true and beautiful as any poet I could chose to read.

Today we read The King in the Garden, by Leon Garfield and Michael Bragg, a retelling of the story of Nebuchadnezzar's madness from the point of view of a little girl who found him in her garden. He had been eating her flowers and gulping water from her fish pond.

"I hate you!" cried Abigail, seizing the king by his hair and pulling with all her might. "Go away back to your home!"

Up came the thirsty king's head, gulping and dripping at the end of Abigail's arm.

"Home?" he mumbled, in a voice that was as rough and ugly as the rest of him. "What's that?"

He turned and stared with huge shadowy eyes that were like rooms with the candles blown out. Where was the king? Was he really inside all this dark?"

I have wanted to write and meditate on seeing God in the poor. I find I have little to say and much brokenness. Maybe it's truer to say I have simply much brokenness and guilt and the confusion that comes with trying to cover those things up.

But I loved that description of the king. The candles blown out. Don't we all see a lot of ill and broken people who have become so unmoored that a self, much less a home, are almost beyond desiring.

And this little girl was able to see the broken, homeless king and minister to him, until he could see himself and remember.

"A king may leave his kingdom, even for seven long years, and nobody need notice that he isn't there; but if God leaves a man, even for a single minute, all the world sees that he's become less than a beast!"

.... "Why are you laughing?" asked Abigail, rubbing her ear. "And why are your eyes shining as if candles have been lighted in them?"

"Because God has come back to me," answered Nebuchadnezzar, "and the darkness has gone."

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