Sunday, July 19, 2009

Childlike and Grownup

I told a friend in an email tonight that in some ways I spent the weekend revisiting some of the very few extraordinarily happy childhood memories I have. And, that in some ways, I spent the weekend dealing with the very adult realities of my day to day life. And that I walked and prayed amidst both of those spaces.

The route home from where we hiked and where I sat in a mountain meadow to pray yesterday goes very near a spot I loved in childhood. As a pastor's family, we weren't exactly well off, and, since my dad's vacation preference tended towards any place as far from other human beings as possible, we spent a lot of family vacations camping. I hate camping. But I have a few very fond memories of some moments spent in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. Riding our bicycles along some stunning paths in the mountains to the Boulton store to get ice cream for an after supper treat on a sunny day. Riding on a cooler day to the interpretive centre and learning about this beautiful terrain we were staying in. Sitting around a campfire as dad made stories like the chronicles of Narnia come alive for us. (In fact, he made them so alive, that, when the first Narnia movie was released, when I was asked my opinion of it, my ultimate response was, "the characters were better in my head.) Those moments didn't last all that long - we grew older and the family dynamics changed. But there are precious memories for me in those moments with the five of us watching the chipmunks while eating icecream at Boulton, or sitting around the campfire, singing, or listening to dad read to us. In knowing the deep love and attention of my parents.

Whenever I get the chance, I revisit those memories just a little, with a stop at the Boulton store for ice cream. L and I stopped there, and at the interpretive centre yesterday afternoon.

I also have very fond memories of the amusement park rides at Heritage Park historical village. It's a little known fact that I love amusement park rides (unless the stated goal of the ride is to make me so dizzy, or flip me around so many times that I can't help but become ill.) And I'm just enough of a history geek to love the simple, old-fashioned rides at Heritage Park. L and I went to the park today to explore, and we went of some of my favorite rides. (I think the only one we really missed was the merry-go-round, and, since we bought season passes, I'm sure we'll catch it next time!) There are photos from that trip here. I remember specific moments on each of the rides as a child. But mostly I remember feeling very care-free in those moments. Sitting on the swings and feeling as if I was flying. Knowing deep joy.

It isn't that I had a particularly terrible childhood, just one that was full of other pulls and demands on my parent's time and attention. One that was shaped by the deep challenges they were facing as individuals and as a couple. I wrote here, some time ago now, about the shift that took place, about what it was like to see the changes from those carefree moments take hold. So those moments of pure love and joy and basking in the attention of family are precious to me. And I take time to remember them, to hold them close and rest in them for a moment.

And yet, those remembrances were juxtaposed this weekend with the very real grown up challenges of life. Of broken relationships, and aching hearts. Of struggling and wrestling and praying. Of paying bills and wondering how long my car will last, and where I'll ever find the finances to replace it. Of climbing a mountain in desperation to pray, because so many things weighed heavily on my heart.

And so, in the midst of that juxtaposition, I walk away from this weekend holding close the memory of hearing scripture prayed aloud, and of deeply hurting prayers scrawled in a journal. But also holding close the taste of ice cream melting on my tongue, and the feeling of flying and the laughter bursting forth as I was on the swings, or the moment when your stomach drops out for the first time on the ferris wheel.

Grown-up and childlike, all mashed together in a twisted, oddly, possibly hopeful mess.