I've spent years looking for this spirited girl who introduced herself to anyone who would meet her eye, telling them the most important thing she could imagine; that she would be turning nine soon. She had rips in both knees of every pair of tights and pants she owned, a product of walking to school at a snails pace and running, (and subsequently falling) the last 50 yards or so as the bell rang. She wore her long hair in a "who cares" style, pulled back in pig tails, out of her eyes so she could see when she strapped roller skates to her sneakers and went whipping down hills with abandon. She confided in a sweet collie named Katie, and got lost with her on regular walks in whatever woods they could find. She climbed trees and picked wild flowers. She sang, usually to the point of some poor soul begging her to stop.
For years, I sought the girl out in the offices of therapists. I looked for her in my childrens' faces. I thought of her as a person I'd lost -or worse, traded for someone more refined. For years I'd catch glimpses of her, only to lose her again. My husband fell in love with her when he watched her run down the beach, and twirl around the roller skating rink with his kids. I extended a hand to her but could never quite reach.
Until, lost in a creativity block that never plagues this nine year old, I sought out my grandmother's poetry. In one writing she laments "Where is the girl who ran like a deer...?" She went on to examine, (or try to) where that girl got lost as she became somebody's wife, then someone's mother. I can remember seeing that girl in her when we walked the beach together, when she showed my cousins and I how to pull the end from a honeysuckle blossom very slowly, then drink the drop of "honey". We all witnessed her as my grandmother, dying of breast cancer, took luxurious swims in Long Island Sound, feeding a part of herself that the cancer couldn't reach. Her words soothed me. How very common it is to lose sight of the spirit. Whether we identify with that nine year old, or five year old or twelve year old; what we are really missing is our freedom to just be. Our desire to see the world as a place of wonder and know God as a friend and companion. We are seeking connection to the trees we climb and the flowers we pick, the oceans we swim in. We are searching out our oneness in Spirit, forgetting that we need not search for what simply is. And so today, as I march into the day with the boldness and playfulness of a child with imperfect but funky toenails, I will walk a little slower, even if it means I need to run to catch up at the end. I'll sing,if only in my car. I'll laugh, and I'll invite everyone I meet to consider being 9 for just a short time. I might even suggest that you let your Spirit loose with nail polish and see what happens.