Yesterday, while walking to church, I passed some gentlemen from the local constabulary, who were on parade patrol. They were dressed in the requisite neon yellow on black. The sky was in a bit of a huff, blowing clouds to and fro, and so allowing slivers of sun to shine on my face. My walk to church is north-westerly and, as you can imagine, more often into the wind than with it. To this insult is added the injury of an uphill to church, with the result that the trip home is a bit ephemeral: being down hill with the wind to my back and the sun on my face. All the same, I enjoy the walk to church as much as the walk home – but I digress.
Shortly after crossing the paths of Waterloo’s finest, I began to see the participants of the annual Downtown Mudpuppy Chase, with proceeds going to help out KidsAbility. I had hardly crested the last hill before beginning the flat that precedes the slow climb to downtown proper when out of the corner of my ear I heard a familiar voice. I glanced over and shouted, “Is that you, L?” “Yes, I thought that looked like you,” said she, and so we walked together for a time. The Chase began with a 3K walk for those who benefit from Kidsability’s important work with youth and their supporters. I had opportunity to meet L’s son, M, who was in a chair and loving the walk. Mom had a big smile on her face, as did M’s care worker who was out in support of the event. L and I chatted as we walked, and at one point, M let out a big squeal. “He loves the wind on his face,” said Mom. I smiled, and we continued to visit in spite of the hard slug up the last bit of King before it meets Frederick, where I peeled off to the left to make my way to St. Matthews.
At church that morning, we were witnesses to the baptism of little H. She was adorable – all squeaky clean in white and was so very good through all of the baptismal liturgy. After the baptism proper H let out a squeal that brought forth both laughter, and to my mind, M’s bend into the wind. I wondered, for a moment, if H was feeling a bit of that Holy Wind herself. At any rate, these two not-wholly disparate events got me thinking.
Why don’t we squeal more? Where is that primal voice at joy, or astonishment, or satisfaction? Why is it so carefully filtered out? Why do we worry so, about being proper when something that is life affirming and death defying catches us unaware? Why can’t we just let it out? At least a little?
I suppose, in a sense, this is a bit rich coming from me: who tends to conservatism in dress and aspires to propriety in demeanor. But perhaps this last sentence begs the question: after all, what has dress got to do with it? And why should we imagine that expressing joy isn’t proper? It seems, in some ways, that our burial of primal speech is an indication of our discomfort with our body. We hide our skin, we hide our feelings, we hide our voices, our selves.
It seems to me that that that itinerant preacher who invited us to become like children if we want to enter the Reign of God was onto something. Perhaps a little more squealing, and a little less squirming might go a long way to making the world a more hospitable place and so, much more real.