there are paths carved all over our woods. i can see their beginnings from my kitchen window. i can walk them on an early morning or wander along in a late afternoon. they aren't straight, but they are clear. clearly paths. when i see them, walk them, i feel pleasure because i know this is the work of my boys -- their hands. young arms and shoulders and determination all bent together to create something visible. paths which take us not very far. but path-making which takes us worlds away.
they clear these trails not for their mother, but for their boyhood. my boys forage through the wilderness of our few acres, perhaps thinking themselves in amazon rainforest or african jungle. survival hardly the game for these suburban children who will come in when called to hot water and clean sheets and dinner on the table.
but i call them hesitantly. i call them slowly. i wait as long as i can. dinner almost cold. dusk turning dark. i wish not to disrupt the blaze of their trail. these boys and their blazing. i wish to protect the spark in their eyes and the adventure in their day. it is almost impossible living as we do in the luxury of our present. but i treasure it. my boys need to be boys. outside and wild. trail blazing and tree climbing. hooting and hollering to each other across wood and dirt and debris. forts and burrows and barefoot. there will be time later for civilization and clean feet. but for now i am slow to give up these child savages. for now i am passionate to protect the moments of exploration and expedition. they will be better for it. i know it.
preparing dinner tonight i watch them from my window. tyler home from cross country practice and not even stepped in the door. straight to the yard with little brother, dragging rake and shovel behind. he changes out his running shoes for something dirty and they are off. and i stir rice and chop chicken and i watch brothers go. and i wonder about these boys and their paths. right now i can step out on them and know they will take me down to the creek or circle back to our house. i know this and am glad for this knowing. but there are paths out ahead of which i know nothing. paths, dim and dark and winding. paths which intimidate, paths on which i won't be invited.
and this is why i want them to path-make now -- to dig and rake and plow and clear. i desperately want them to hone some skills. i want them confident in their blazing abilities because i know someday these suburban born boys will be blazing in another kind of wilderness. they will face some kind of tough terrain in their future; a wild place which won't include mom or dad.
and as their mother, i can only do so much. i won't pretend to be too important. i won't imagine myself more than i am. from the moment of birth begins a process of letting go of our children. both boys were clingers of the greatest kind. especially the oldest. there was a time when he cried if i left him at sunday school or preschool or in the kitchen. now he carries shovel to the path and digs hard. i am quite sure he doesn't look back. when i go out to watch their progress or comment on their plan he is cool and teenaged and tolerant. sometimes he says things like, "mom, you might want to be careful." he doesn't look up from his work, but he wants me to know he's in charge. there was a day when he didn't want me out of his sight, and now, he isn't so sure he wants me out on his path. gone are the boys holding to my legs. gone are the boys climbing into my bed. my sons have new trails to cut, new paths to navigate. and though i won't always be able to watch them from my window, i am so thankful for The One who watches over them, The One who goes before them, The One who blazes right along with them.
"the Lord himself goes before you and will be with you;
He will never leave you nor forsake you." ~deuteronomy 31: 8
"trust in the Lord with all your heart acknowledge him
and he will make straight your paths." ~ proverbs 3:5-6