Friday, September 18, 2009
Is a stair
Where I sit.
There isn't any
I'm not at the bottom,
I'm not at the top;
So this is the stair
Halfway up the stairs
And isn't down.
it isn't in the nursery,
it isn't in the town.
And all sorts of funny thoughts
Run round my head:
"It isn't really
It's somewhere else
— A. A. Milne
“Halfway Down,” When We Were Very Young
Thinking of your childhood as a stairway, when did you feel (and how did you feel then)
1. at the bottom?
For me that was my kindergarten year of school. I walked into class happy, confident, a little intellectually cocky...and by the end of the day I had been bullied, scolded, rejected on the playground...and to top things off I got on the wrong bus home and had to be retrieved, sobbing, from the bus garage by my parents. That was pretty much how the whole year went, including three hospitalizations for pneumonia. (Don't think there's not a mind-body connection, either.) The "K" word still gives me the shivers. I was definitely on the bottom of the stairs then.
2. at the top?
Fourth grade. I had a teacher who liked me, knew I needed some extra challenge and let me run with the ball -- extra credit, mentoring my classmates and so on. I was also developing my own little posse of friends. I started to get my confidence back. Good times.
Sixth grade -- not a little kid anymore but not quite a teen. I remember aspiring to teenhood by reading Teen magazine and some well-worn paperback I'd ordered from Scholastic called Teen Scene or some such thing -- it had a trippy cover with a psychadelic graphic on it and all manner of advice about makeup and hygiene, style, boys (?) and parental relations, written in a light and "groovy" style. I didn't quite get it, but I wanted to...at the time.
4. At this point in your life, where would you place yourself on your own stairway?
As a very busy, happy, but currently non-gainfully-employed (by choice) person, I'm definitely halfway up the stairs; neither here nor there. I balk when people kid me about being retired -- oh, please -- but in a way I think I am retired, namely from a particular mindset, one encouraged by the dominant culture, about seating my identity as a person primarily in my career. Been there; done that; over it. At this stage of the game I'm much more interested in vocation: Where's God calling me to be and to do, right now?
5. Identify a place for you that "isn't really anywhere" but "somewhere else instead."
I'm feeling that way right now about my monthly spiritual direction appointment. It's not quite like a therapy session...not quite like a church-office chat with my pastor...there's not a lot of graspable "there" there, at least at this point, but yet it makes me happy to go there, and I always feel happy and affirmed when I leave.