Just the Pond

swimmyWhen I was in my early twenties, flying back and forth between home in New York and college in Minnesota, the moment on the plane that terrified me most had nothing to do with take-off or rising to forty-thousand feet or landing. No, what gave me anxiety was that broad view of New York City, eight million people packed into three hundred square miles, that proved to me just how small I was. In the vast world I was a speck. An “insignificant number,” my chemistry teacher taught us, was like the weight of ashes in an airplane ash tray (back in the days when there was such a thing) compared to the weight of an airplane. I was an insignificant number, and it shook my foundation. (more…)

Paper Doll Spirituality

IMG_2210Recently Gwyn’s kindergarten celebrated the 100th day of school with an assignment to bring a hundred things to class. We suggested Gwyn put one hundred beads on a string. No interest. We suggested she count out a hundred elbow noodles. No go. On a whim I said, “I bet if you gathered up all the paper dolls you’ve made, you’d have a hundred.”

Gwyn has been making paper dolls obsessively for over a year. She has Emily or I draw an outline of a body, then she colors the skin, face, and hair and creates a wardrobe—with flaps. For Christmas her great aunt gave her paper doll stencils which occasionally now take the pressure off us. When Gwyn read about how Betsy and Tacy cut their paper dolls from magazines, she added that variation. Her favorite paper dolls she makes in sets—the Christmas set with Mr. and Mrs. Santa and some elves; the Frozen set with Anna and Elsa’s complete wardrobes; the “Mama, Imma, and Gwyn go to Hawaii” set, with hula skirts and lava-proof suits. I particularly love the set of God paper dolls. They have enormous heads, small bodies, and they’re related: grandfather and grandmother God, the parent Gods, the kid Gods with curly hair, the toddler Gods. “All the world’s a family,” Gwyn likes to say. I’m glad that’s how she thinks of God. (more…)