I cut the slices of banana bread, trying not to drop any crumbs on the head of the wrapped baby that’s nestled under my chin. I take a moment to kiss his head before the two-year-old helps me fill the plastic minion cup with water. Playgrounds are thirsty places. I break up fights, shove my phone into my pocket, and slide on my flip-flops before locking the door behind us.
Those walks to the playground happen early, before we even sit down for breakfast. These are 90 degrees days and we are trying to slip out and back in before it hits the mid 80s. We look at leaves with purple edges and watch birds of prey circling around the edges of the treetops. We investigate a dead stink bug and throw sticks across the fence. We deal with bad attitudes while we climb across the playsets.
These can seem like bleak times. We are surrounded, inundated if we choose to be, by news of genocide and terrorism and hatred. We can turn on the tv or log onto twitter and see so many things that are wrong with the world. Even our own personal lives, blessed though they may be, can be overwhelming and discouraging as we plow through times of hardship and struggle.
This is the world we birth our children into. They are born in a rush of fury or a time-delayed vacuum of of contractions and pushing and then- then we hold them. We see them and we want better for them.
Children give us hope. By some gift, we have the privilege of crafting the world that they will reside in for years before they venture out into a place that seems so hateful. We want to send them out equipped to fight back against the darkness. We want to infuse them with the strength and faith and character they will need to stand strong against all that is wrong around them. We want to give them something beautiful to remember when they face hard times in their own lives.
We are the magic makers. We take an ordinary day and turn it into something wonderful. We can pull out the play dough, snuggle with books. We can build forts in the backyard and eat apples and crackers under it. We can point out the moon and watch the stars and catch the June bugs to tie strings to their legs.
Almost every afternoon we pull out the markers and crayons and paper (we use enough paper to cover the walls of our home). Then we color and cut and draw and hang so many pictures on the refrigerator that they fall off when the breeze of someone walking by ruffles them. They ask to hang them by their beds or take them to church for their friends. They delightedly show them to their daddy when he gets home.
Magic making is in the simple. Magic making is doing life together, smiling into their faces, pulling them into our world, and following them into their own. It’s seeing them and letting them know we find them important.
My husband gently rubbed my back to wake me up. I had been up quite a bit with the baby the night before and when the older boys rolled out of bed, he rolled out too. He shushed them out of our bedroom, stuck boys in the shower and started a load of laundry. Then he got ready for work and let me sleep until he absolutely had to wake me up. That was magic for my day. Knowing that he saw what life demanded from me in this season and went out of his way to serve me warmed my heart more than the extra forty-five minutes of sleep helped my foggy brain. He is a magic maker too.
Magic might be found in simple things but making it isn’t simple. Some days it seems that we can’t do it anymore. The magic making is too much and we’ll all have to deal with ordinary and dull from now on because there is nothing left in us. Yet somehow courage has us trying again the next day when the sunrise colors the sky and we hold the coffee in our cup.
Sometimes finding strength for the magic is adjusting our normal routine. Sometimes magic is a favorite show for the children while we doze on the couch for twenty minutes. Sometimes magic is sending our husbands off for a few hours by themselves or taking ourselves to dinner with a friend. Sometimes it’s letting someone else help us.
Magic is the quiet, gentle tone when yelling seems natural. It’s one more drink at bedtime, another kiss on the cheek, one more prayer before we close the door again. It’s gracious firmness about the rules because magic is not chaos. It is making our physical environment a place where everyone belongs and all are loved.
We should strive for holiness but holiness is a flood, not an absence. Are you the kind of parent who can create joys for your children that they never imagined wanting? Does your sun shine, warming the faces of others? Does your rain green the world around you? Do you end your days with anything resembling a sunset? Do you begin with a dawn? We say that we would like to be more like God. So be more thrilled with moonlight. And babies. And what makes them. And holding on to one lover until you’ve both been aged to wine, ready to pour. Holiness is nothing like a building code. Holiness is 80-year-old hands crafting an apple pie for others, again. It is aspen trees in a backlit breeze. It is fire on the mountain. Speak your joy. Mean it. Sing it. Do it. Push it down into your bones. Let it overflow your banks and flood the lives of others. At his right hand, there are pleasure forevermore. When we are truly like him, the same will be said of us. ND Wilson
Perhaps not ideal holiness theology but a beautiful picture nonetheless. So we nap and make sure they sleep. We eat nourishing food along with them. We sit when we need to and soak up the sunshine while they play. This magic making is exhausting work and we’re pouring almost all we have into it.
Perhaps we can’t build a better world for them as adults, but we can shape their world while they are children.
And the secret? As we shape a world for them, we get to live in it too.