A couple months ago, my kids and I met an old college friend for lunch at a park. She brought her infant son. We brought more food than we could possibly devour–especially once the food had been thoroughly soaked by the sprinkler system heads that went off without warning.
Over the course of an hour or so, this friend and I haltingly chatted while I wrangled my three ruffians and she coerced her little one to take in a few ounces from his bottle.
Truthfully, there wasn’t anything tremendously remarkable about the day (aside from the sprinkler debacle), I would have imagined, from my kids’ perspectives. We were at a park we’d been to countless times before. It was a mid-summer day like any other–except for the odd flying thing soaring overhead just prior to our departure.
My friend and I hadn’t been able to decipher what it was–the thing. A glider? An oddly shaped helicopter? A weather balloon? My friend had pointed it out to our four-year-old son, in hopes that his likely superior vision, compared to hers or mine, could clear up the confusion.
But no such luck.
Six weeks later, this evening, while eating cheap, baked frozen pizza and green bean-edamame-tomato salad (I know, quite a combo, right?) Landon started drawing all sorts of wild connections together.
“Remember the story on the news about the two fire fighters who died, Mom?”
I wasn’t immediately sure if he was referring to the firefighters who’ve recently died in the fire north of LA, or if he was referring to something he’d heard on NPR’s 8th anniversary of 9/11 coverage. Regardless, I just went with it.
“Sure, honey. I remember. What about it?”
“It’s sad that they died, isn’t it, Mom?”
“Of course it is. It’s sad when anyone dies–especially when they die doing their job, which involves helping other people.”
“I’ll bet God is sad that they died.”
“I’m sure you’re right, honey.”
The ensuing long pause was punctuated by a thoughtful crunch of over-cooked pizza crust.
“That was probably them flying over head that day.”
“What? What day? Flying overhead where?”
“You know, that day at the park. It was probably the two firefighters we saw flying overhead.”
“What park? What are you talking about, honey?”
“At the park. When we got wet from the sprinklers. We saw something flying in the sky. It was probably the two firefighters on their way to go live with God.”
Do you have the chills, yet?
I read a book, long before I was a parent, called Old Souls by Thomas Shroder. The book was written by a journalist who traveled to the Middle East — Beirut, to be exact, to research a rumor he’d heard about the inordinate amount of children who seem to posses old (insert reincarnated) souls.
Now, I’m not entirely convinced of the whole reincarnation thing. But I’m also not entirely against its possibility. The fact is, I just don’t know. I think there’s a heck of a lot out there that many of us won’t even be able to grasp until we’ve passed on to the other side. And, then again, there are probably some uberly enlightened folk that are able to grasp far more than the rest of us.
But one of the wonderful things about that book–and other sources on similar topics which I’ve read–is the idea that children maintain a much greater connection to the spiritual world than adults. Some even argue that certain children are still able to remember what heaven is like–perpetuating, of course, the idea that each individual soul comes from heaven to earth and therefore there must be some opportunity for memories to have formed and perhaps even been maintained.
I’m not claiming here that I think this particular son of ours is an old soul. Or clairvoyant. Or anything else related. But, wow–what a connection to make. Especially after a run-of-the-mill day at the park that no one in our family has talked about since (Except for the sprinklers. That seemed to make an impression.)
Other than in the catacombs of the mysteriously amazing brain, where neuronal connections occur with lightning-like speed and unbelievable permanency, where do children come up with these fantastic connections?