Sunday, January 17, 2010

Why We Have Knights

Yesterday was one of the warmest, driest days we've had in months, and G/Son and I got out in the afternoon and he ran, and ran, and ran. Son was a cross-country runner of some renown in high school and I'm thinking that this apple didn't fall too far from the tree. It's just a thing of beauty to watch how happy it makes G/Son to be out in the fresh air, running hard. His cheeks pink up, his muscles stretch in a way that will bring him deep sleep in the evening, and you can almost literally watch him becoming more himself. We've got a pattern down: he can run like the wind until he gets to the bend in the curve, the bench at the corner, the fountain way up the hill. Then he has to wait for his old Nonna to (almost) catch up. As he takes off again, he often calls back in pure joy, "I'm too fast! You can't catch me!" He's right. But that's a feature, not a bug. He just doesn't know yet that he's, in Gibran's words, the living arrow of my living arrow.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Today, it's pouring rain and the cold goes right through your bones, so G/Son and I were stuck inside. We watched the birds eat suet in the big bush outside the guest room, but we watched through the closed windows. And, we did some fun art with stickers of knights and dragons and valiant ladies and a stickerboard that showed a castle on a hill, a sky, and a dark cave at the end of a road. I was encouraging G/Son to make up a story about the picture he was making, as a precursor to writing down such stories in a month or two so that we can learn to read them. He made up a great story that kept growing and changing as he added more stickers to the stickerboard. As he was working he said, "Nonna. Knights protect other people who don't have armour or swords."

So, you know, I didn't spend a few decades of my life on Authurian myth for nothing. I struck while the iron was hot and said, "You know, you're right. That's why King Arthur created knights. So that men who were strong and had money for things like horses and armour and swords would use those things to protect people who were weaker and poorer. And he was a very important person because he helped people to remember that protection and cultivation are the most important thing for men to do in the world, even at a time when a lot of people were forgetting it." And we went on from there to who King Arthur was, and what "once and future king" could mean, and the original meaning of "husband," and my promise to one day read him a book without pictures that told the story of how Arthur learned so much and became so associated with animals (which reminded me of some musings I'd been having the day before about why it's mostly male xian saints like Francis and Kevin who get associated with animals, but I didn't go into that w/G/Son) and about how sometimes befriending the dragon (at least the blue one that G/Son liked best out of all the sticker dragons) is even better than slaying it and about how a world without dragons needs to go create even worse dragons to take the place of the lost dragons. G/Son said to me, "Yeah, and dragons are like a new creation of dinosaurs, to take the place of the dinosaurs when they all became fossils. But dinosaurs didn't breathe fire, and dragons do."

And then, G/Son had some more oatmeal and Nonna had some more coffee and we curled back up in bed to watch one more cartoon from Batman Beyond. And I was all the way through typing this before "Dark Knight" registered in my left brain and I realized that we'd actually (that's one of G/Son's favorite words: "Actually, Nonna, . . . .") spent the weekend on a single theme. Silly, slow, old woman. There's a lot about the Batman cartoons that I don't like and there's something about them that deeply appeals to G/Son (and most young boys I've known.) And yet, and yet, . . . . I'm still willing to dance the dance between what I want to him to learn and between his need to, in the words of the poet, "learn by going where he has to go."

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.
We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me, so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.


And we saved the story about What Went Wrong and Why Arthur's Idea Didn't Quite Work (Although He Kind Of Realized What Was Missing) for another day.

Picture found here.


Teacats said...

The Once and future King was one of my favorite books when young -- along with the Lord of the Rings books; Narnia books -- and many of the books by E. Nesbit and Enid Blyton. Thanks for encouraging his imagination to bloom and set forth ....

Jan at Rosemary Cottage

Teacats said...

Nearly forgot another favorite book -- Wind in the Willows -- one of the BEST descriptions in literature of an encounter with the Divine -- in this case -- when Ratty and Mole meet Pan. Oh! and the best description of the contents of a picnic basket too! LOL~!

Jan at Rosemary Cottage

Hecate said...


I think Wind in the Willows was my introduction to Paganism, although I didn't realize it at the time. :)