Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one's youth.
Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them!
he shall not be put to shame
when he contends with his enemies in the gate.
- Psalm 127.5-6
Earlier, the children of my youth were scattered to the winds. Two were outside playing in the chill of dusk, as their sister finished homework in her room. But that was then.
Later, the warrior sat in the middle of homework girl's room, well, happy.
It was one of those collection of moments when, at least in my mind, time slows. You begin seeing things as if they're still life; they're not, but that's how I see them. Homework girl had just put on my old Vanessa Carlton cd because she knows I like it. And that's when I saw their feet.
Homework girl's, I guess when I wasn't looking, have grown into young girl's feet, almost a woman's. They're daintily solid, they'll hold her weight, her glory. She was moving around the room with authority, this middle child, dancing to the music while cleaning her bookshelf, readying herself for Monday and beyond. Girl, you're almost a woman now, as Neil sorta sang. She talks to me like she's the only child of my youth in the room. This is nothing new.
The youngest was sitting near the door of the room she shares with homework girl. She was reading a book, to herself, with legs crossed and bare feet pointing northish and southish; she was reading Junie B. Jones. I focused in on her feet. She had been outside earlier while I was cleaning up Beagle poop in the yard. She was barefooted. Git some shoes on. You see all this stuff I'm cleaning up? If you stepped in it and happened to have a cut on your foot, it could get infected and you'd incur huge medical bills. Later, near the doorway, I didn't notice any cuts or poop or latent infection on her feet. No, just happy toes that moved to Vanessa's voice, metronomes for a warrior's heart.
Firstborn, out of the blue, came and snuggled up beside me. This is not rare, but it's not an everday occurrence. His bare feet (we do own shoes; it's just it was late in the evening and we're from Arkansas and all) were propped up against the wall. Big, man feet, he has. His mother clipped his toenails last night; now, he's not quite so feral. It is the classic struggle with his mother: feral vs. my baby. His hair has grown beyond motherly standards and he's reading a lot of Wolverine comics. I, the happy warrior, understand.
And then the Beagle, who generates the waste of 20 elephants in our backyard, comes and plops alongside my legs. Just starts to lean a little and lets gravity seal the deal. I couldn't bring myself to look at his feet.
There's no Robert Fulghum closing to this post. I just found myself sitting in the gate with no shame, as the psalmist would say, with the feet of the children of my youth all at my feet. And, as the good book says, I was happy.
There's another verse that speaks of beautiful feet on the mountains, the feet of those who bring good news. I'd always thought that meant a bunch of witnessing Baptists plodding up the Roman Road carrying Holy Joe tracts. Until last night. The children of my youth are beautiful-feeted creations that hold the good news within them with every breath; they are a heritage from the LORD...the fruit of the womb is a gift.
One day, sooner I'm sure than I want, the warrior will send beautiful-bare-footed arrows from his bow into the plans prepared for them. But for now we sit in the gate as Vanessa sings and the Beagle's belly moves up and down and we read and talk and are happy.