Finding Gold

According to statistics, a normal family size for North American families these days is 2.5 kids. In my youth families were bigger and houses were smaller.  I can’t remember if my youth was particularly chaotic with four siblings in a small house, but then chaos can be the norm when you are in the middle of it. My husband and I were not the norm with a half dozen kids but we survived. I even found patches of calm in the whirlwind of life. It wasn’t by meditating. I tried that once and fell asleep. No, I think it was by screening out the nuggets of joy each day; those little gold pieces that come from the children themselves. For me, when I mined that gold I gleaned the awareness of joy and laughter in a child’s life to tickle my day.
Rather like being refined by the fire of a past chaotic life, I like to think I’ve now become more or less distilled. Silence helps. I now read a lot of books written by smart monks who meditate and find infinite peace in the present moment. I don’t think most monks have kids.  So how to survive childhood wouldn’t be on their done-that list. What they do encourage is being present in every moment, which doesn’t quite work for parents when they are trying to avoid the present by turning off the noise just to preserve their sanity. Perhaps what a parent needs to do is accept the unavoidable chaos that comes with raising a family, whatever the size, and plan or search for opportunities for finding the gold.
And so it was that ten members of our family (twelve if you count the dogs) went looking for the goldmine, and took off for the Rockies one weekend to climb a favorite trail called Rawson Lake. Since it was designated by Parks Alberta as being a moderate climb, the family figured grannie could handle it.
The climb from Rawson Lake to the top of the trail was a mere 2,000 foot gain. Puff puff. I only had to stop about a dozen times to catch my breath. Our sons and the dogs waited for me while I caught it. I could see a look of reproach in their doggie eyes as they tugged on their leashes, desperate to catch up to the others.
Once we emerged at a little alpine lake, puffs became gasps when I took in the sight. Embraced by soaring mountains and sparkling clear blue waters, I was struck to the heart and just saturated with the marvel of that infinite lavishness.
While we adults paused to enjoy the view, the children embodied it, zooming across the meadow, fierce emissaries of joy streaming from them like sunlight. Watching them, I recalled the simple, snatched moments of uncomplicated pleasure one gains from just being present in a child’s life. There lies the gold.

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