The other day I stopped into the Penn Lake library to retrieve a book being held for me. I intended to pop in and out, absorbed in thinking about my next errand and my plans when I got back home. As I bustled to the hold area for my book I was dimly aware that the library was noisy that day. When I had to stop to check out my book I began to realize the “noise” was a child’s voice. Seeking the source, across the small main room I saw a baby, perhaps nine months old, in a stroller, happily babbling away in a penetrating voice that, while not loud at home, certainly felt that way in a library. The baby spoke with great conviction in its unique tongue. I grinned, delighted. I didn’t want to stare or intrude but I stood across the room, captivated, fed by all that babble contained: the exuberance of experiment, play and self-expression. I was charmed, too, by the memories that flooded in of my own happy babbling children at that age (something that feels very long ago most days).
I looked around and saw that the child’s father was nearby but he did not try to hush the child. Nor did a librarian approach to do so. In fact, no one else seemed to even notice. My exhilaration grew: this library is a safe place for children, and this baby, unselfconsciously wrapped in its pleasure, is loved and tended.
I lingered a bit longer, until the child’s mother appeared and I saw they would soon be leaving. For a moment in my excited pleasure I wanted to hug the baby and the parents; instead I sent a silent “thank you” to the three of them and went on my way.
My day had changed. The invigorating warmth and cheer in my heart and belly remained. I sent another “thank you” to the Universe for so sweetly breaking my trance of thinking, rushing and planning. Plunging me back into true life.
So many things can do it, especially at this luscious time of spring, but that day it was the determined, gleeful babbling of a child (I can see and hear that baby still).
I trust that when I am temporarily lost in producing, judging, planning and striving, love and life will find me and bring me home. Perhaps that is why I have loved this poem by Robert Francis since I first read it as a teenager:
Keep me from going to sleep too soon
Or if I go to sleep too soon
Come wake me up. Come any hour
Of night. Come whistling up the road.
Stomp on the porch. Bang on the door.
Make me get out of bed and come
And let you in and light a light.
Tell me the northern lights are on
And make me look. Or tell me clouds
Are doing something to the moon
They never did before, and show me.
See that I see. Talk to me till
I’m half as wide awake as you
And start to dress wondering why
I ever went to bed at all.
Tell me the walking is superb.
Not only tell me but persuade me.
You know I’m not too hard persuaded.
Who or what has popped into your day to call you back to what is true and alive?