Jim got me to thinking today with this Thomas Merton quote from his post:
“Life is this simple: we are living in a world that is absolutelyI mentioned to him that sometimes we miss the Divine shining through until we are past the event and looking back. Such was the case outside the tabernacle with a little girl named Sinclair...
transparent and the Divine is shining through it all the time”.
Sinclair came alone to camp that year, having just finished kindergarten. Technically she was not supposed to be there until she finished first grade, but we never were much on minding that technicality. She arrived with a lot of baggage for such a young child. Mom gave us our first clues-- make sure she drinks her water, make sure she goes to the bathroom, make sure you get her to the nurse's station to take her meds, and oh yeah, sometimes she sees things...well, she did not tell us that last part, but it would have been helpful if she had. When I took her down to the nurse's station, the nurse filled me in a bit (bipolar disorder) and reiterated that I did not want to miss any of her med times (sheesh, I have been coming to camp for ten years, don't they think I know that?) It would not have made any difference to me how many times we had to traipse down to the nurse's cabin, I was already hopelessly in love with this little brown-eyed girl who landed in our cabin alone and with baggage.
Sinclair made friends among the girls in spite of her sometimes strange ways. I made sure she drank her water and we had "tinkle races" to make sure she was tinkling. (We raced to the bathrooms and listened to see who was going to make the first "splash". Sometimes you have to get a little creative. That's all I'm saying.) I took her out to sit on the porch when the crowd in the cabin got to be too much for her, or when she "saw something".
Sometimes, in the tabernacle for worship service, the noise of 400 girls clapping and singing and squealing (that was all before the preacher began to speak) got too intense for her and she I would go out to a pavilion behind the tabernacle and sit quietly. It was during one of these times that she started counting the "lightening bugs" and then became fascinated when she heard a bird singing in the darkness.
Watching the Brown-eyed Girl Count Fireflies
(for Sinclair, sometimes she sees things)
She has seen spiders in her breakfast bowl
where mother saw only grits,
and terror in her daughter’s eyes.
Snakes slithered forward,
threatened to swallow her whole
as mother moved to offer comfort.
Moments later, the child
asks for red jelly.
To make a smiley face on my grits.
Tonight she counts fireflies, their stochastic blinks
dancing in unsteady rhythm
with the neurons in her brain.
Music breaks the quiet, and her attention shifts.
She searches to see what kind of bird
sings in darkness, why
her notes tremble and swell.