Thursday, March 22, 2012

"Swing, Daddy"

"Swing, daddy."

We walk speedily to the swings, making sure to avoid the surrounding sand pit, lest we get sand in our shoes. (He hates having sand in his shoes. He's the only two-year-old I know who values cleanliness). I pick him up, carefully positioning his legs through the holes so he can swing freely. I lift him up until he is at my eye level, parallel with the ground below. He grins, and we begin the countdown.

"3...2...1...ignition!" he cries. I release him and step to the side in one motion as he plummets towards the earth, arcing away from me and rising towards the heavens. At the peak, his body pauses for a brief moment and awaits gravity's grip to pull him back towards me.

His eyes are closed. His hair flips up in the rhythmic oscillation of the swing, flying up around his head like a newly-formed halo until it settles back down with his return.

I whisper "I love you" into his ear as he approaches the apex of the next swing. He smiles, eyes still closed as he swings away from me. We are content, fully present with one another in the silence of the playground. Time passes slowly, but we are in no rush. I continue to push, he continues to swing, and all is well with the world in this time, in this place.

I am pushing him so high, much higher than most two-year-olds can bear, and yet he swings with eyes closed and with heart at peace. Fear or anxiety are not present here. I realize in this moment--maybe more fully than I ever have before--that he trusts me. It is the trust of a child, the faith that Daddy will not let me fall, no matter how high I might swing away from him.

He knows that I am here. That is enough.

God calls himself our Father. That image can often be tainted through the lens of imperfect human fathers. Yet from that moment on the swings, I understand the moniker. I know that he is here, that he loves me with a lavish sort of love, that he delights in bringing me joy. I know I can trust him. That is enough.

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. (1 John 3:1)

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