May 22, 2003

There are so many news

There are so many news items about which I could blog. Perhaps I'll save them for tomorrow.

Today in Parenting 101 we learned about icons, but not how we expected.

My parents left for Texas yesterday. Aidie and I took them to the train bound for Gatwick, from whence they departed this morning. I could tell that he didn't understand what was going on when they boarded the train and the doors shut and it pulled away from the station. He probably didn't think it was any different than Papa going out for a walk.

When he got up this morning, he went looking for Papa and couldn't figure out why he wasn't around. Then he went into his bedroom, where they had been staying, looking for Honey (what we have called my mother since I was 18 months old) -- no doubt because she always fed him toast. All day he kept climbing up on the window sill looking out the window for their imminent return.

He has been saying "Papa" for a while now, though he always says it in a whisper for some reason. He would wait until today before he would start to say "Honey". He kept saying both over and over and looking for them everywhere. Finally, this afternoon, he saw the picture we have of them holding him. It is in a frame on the dresser in the lounge, just out of his reach. He kept pointing at it, saying "Papa" until I got it down for him.

Even though they are not here, he knows they are represented in the picture. Well, he doesn't understand what representation is. Yet he definitely knows that the people in the picture are the people he loves. He wouldn't let go over the frame. And he wouldn't stop kissing the picture. He would distinctly kiss both Papa and Honey. When we asked him, "Where's Honey?" he would touch her image. Likewise with "Where's Papa?".

In kissing the picture, he wasn't kissing the glass covering the photographic paper. He was kissing his grandparents. Kelly was the first to grasp what he was doing. She said, "That's icons!" She realised that he had never seen us kissing photos before. It was an innate response. She also realised that kissing is the innate and natural thing for us to do when we see icons.

That's exactly what we are doing when we kiss icons. They too are our family. They are our fathers and mothers in the faith. In kissing their picture, we are kissing them because we love them. Just like Papa and Honey, they aren't with us anymore, but they are just as alive in a different place. Heaven may even be closer than Texas. (With all due respect to those readers who remain convinced they are one and the same place, I hope heaven is cooler in the summertime.) And just like Papa and Honey, we will see them again. Probably not as soon, but one day.

Until we see our fathers and mothers among the saints, we will kiss their picture. And until he sees Papa and Honey again, I'm sure Aidie will kiss theirs.

Posted by david at May 22, 2003 10:51 PM