Watching angels with Avery

Avery and I are watching a DVD called “Handel: the Messiah Choruses,” which is music accompanied by still photographs of the Benedtictine Abbey Church, and the surrounding countryside in Bavaria (Yuletide Naxos Musical Journey, 2000).

He sits in my lap, head resting on my chest. I can feel the rise and fall of his breath. I can feel his heart beat. The photographs come and go, marble pillars that look like columns of ice cream, jewel-toned frescos, sunlight streaming through high windows. Everywhere, there are angels.

People sometimes say Avery is an angel. I am studying him now, curious to learn what he thinks of the seraphim.

He is unimpressed.

When we see the farmer with his cows, Avery claps. Bright blue sky, he claps. Again, for the pink fuscias cascading from a window box. But when we return to the interior of the cathedral, Avery begins doing the hand movements to “Itsy Bitsy Spider.”

I’m not sure if Avery is an angel. I’ve come to understand the phrase as a sign of support–people want me to know that they recognize Avery is different, and that they accept him by telling me he is not of this world, but a better one.

But the Avery I know is very much of this world. He is a little boy, with likes and dislikes, his own thoughts and feelings. I worry his angel-status removes him from the world of the here-and-now.

And yet, there is something about Avery that reminds me of God. I haven’t figured it out, but I have learned to stop denying it. Maybe it’s simply the way all children inspire us to our better selves, our highest ideals.

Avery is watching angels, and I am watching him. He is not impressed with the gold, the jewels, the monumental cathedral–all man-made. He loves the cows, and the sky, and the flowers–God’s creations.

There is a lesson here, one I will continue trying to learn.

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11 thoughts on “Watching angels with Avery

  1. I love “verbal handicap.” And I have had one at times myself, so that helps me feel more inclined to forgive it.

    And Monica, try as I might, I can’t deny that there is something “extra” special about our children, and your idea that maybe they hear God more clearly is beautiful.

  2. I tend to think that Mikey just might be able to hear God better than I do. I think he has lessons to teach that reach to the very core of what walking with Jesus would mean. I think people understand that he brings them closer to the true meaning of love (and my favorite Bible quote still is “God is Love”). Perhaps when people see our children as “angels”, they are trying to state something about the love and joy that is a reflection of God rather then that they are inhuman. All anyone needs to do is see Mikey throw one of his tantrums and dig his feet in and they would know he is far from “angelic”. I love people’s insights on this is something I think about often. There is something special about all children but I still kind of think when God whispers in Mikey’s ear, he hears it more clearly.

  3. Thank you for stopping by my blog, Jennifer! It’s good good to meet you, through your blog. Of course you can link. 🙂
    I know what you mean about the angel comments. They give me mixed feelings, too. Sometime, people are just trying to be encouraging in the best way they know how. They have their verfbal handicaps. 🙂

  4. Absolutely, Gillian. That’s an excellent point–when we classify some children as angels, what do we call other children? Which doesn’t feel right to me; back to Kathy’s idea. We are all angels, just some of us with thinner shells.

  5. I think that as parents each of our children teach us invaluable lessons. Since my little one with Ds is simply that “little”, I am just being introduced to this whole, “you have an angel” notion. But, I know that Polly has already taught me so much about myself in her short eight months. Namely, she has turned on a big, blaring light to my own disabilities. It’s like she was born with a hunter’s hat. The ones with the spotlight on front. But my two older girls, admittedly at times devils, show me sides of heaven as well. Like the other day. We watched one of those heart-warming, feel real good movies. At the end of the movie Lainie and Zoya jumped up and danced themselves through the ending credits. I felt like doing that as well, but of course I just sat on the couch admiring their inabitions. Thank God that my children can show me on a day to day basis, through simple life, what pure joy looks and feels like again. That has to be just a bit angelic?

  6. Your entry reminds me of the Raymond Carver story, Cathedral, and how the narrator finds himself guiding the blind man’s hand as he “shows” him what a cathedral “looks” like. I have always thought of that story as Carver’s meditation on “God” and how godliness manifests itself. Maybe that’s what Avery and all these kids are doing, taking our hand and showing us what a cathedral looks like.

  7. Kathy, what a beautiful explanation. Shells of clay…I love it.

    And it’s so good to hear from you Ellie! Glad you found my new “home”. And yes, I’d rather have people think of Avery as an angel than not think of him at all.

  8. Yes, I get that label for L too. I hope to find a way of reacting to it in a sensible and dignified way. But it is hard.

    L has been so ill this year and we have had so many instances of almost losing him since his birth, that there is no denying divine intervention. And as such, his life is a series of miracles and he is a silent witness of God’s grace.

    Yet he is also very much a little boy with nothing particularly angelic about him. He gets frustrated and annoyed. He enjoys cars and trucks and trains and noise like any other 13 month old boy.

    So I am also rather torn about the label of angel. Maybe I should see it as a possible start to getting to know the real L? Which is a whole lot more positive than rejection.

    Jennifer, I am so glad that you have this blog and it is wonderful te be able to read something written by you more often….

  9. Wow.

    I love it.

    I struggle with the same labeling issue with Thomas. I don’t ever want to deny him the dignity of being human. But there is something about him.

    My best conclusion is that _none_ of us are of this world, not really. We’re all eternal beings in shells of clay. And for some of us, the shell is thin.

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