Big World, Little World

15 08 2006

Last night George and I had brownies with vanilla ice-cream, fudge sauce, and fresh peaches for dessert. It was yummy, but the biggest treat was sharing it with Katelyn and her grandmother.

Faithful, long-time readers of this livejournal will (probably not) recall this story I wrote back in 2003 about Katelyn and Luke when they were two. Now she’s a lovely 21-year-old who spent last spring in Florence, Italy studying art therapy. She’s full of eager potential and a kind of trembling joy that comes with standing on the edge of a cliff and gazing into a wide-open future–knowing the time will soon arrive when she’ll be forced to jump, but not knowing where she’ll land.

In the course of our conversation Katelyn said, “I painted Grace and Luke in one of my projects. We had to represent the way we played as children, and I chose an imagination game we used to play called ‘Big World, Little World.'” She explained that they’d gather at the base of a large tree in our yard. If they circled the tree one direction, everything in the world was small. Blades of grass were really trees. If they circled the tree the other direction, everything was big. Trees were blades of grass. Once they’d chosen a direction, they interacted with everything as though their play-world order were true.

I love so much about this glimpse into childhood imagination. This is how stories are born. One minute you’re asking, “What if I walked around this tree and everything in the world became tiny?” Next you’re writing a book like Gulliver’s Travels. But, as big a fan as I am of imagination, I’m an even bigger fan of what it teaches me about truth.

Big World, Little World. We live in a big world where a young woman can spread her wings and fly away to study in distant lands. And yet, it’s a little world where she once again finds herself seated at a kitchen table in East Texas with old friends.

It’s a big world filled with millions of people and diverse cultures, customs, and languages. It’s also a little world in a vast universe. The footstool of God.

It’s a big world where we sometimes come around the corner to find our problems looming like giant redwoods.

It’s a little world where a change in perspective reminds us our problems are really no bigger than blades of grass in the hands of an all-sufficient God.

I’d love to see Katelyn’s painting. I’m sure it’s as delightful as her sparkling eyes and disarming smile. I’m also sure she’ll be an amazing art therapist when she launches out into this big, little world. Just thinking about her art has encouraged me.


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3 responses

16 08 2006
Anonymous

Ooh, that brings back good memories. One of my favorite things about having little kids is how it reminds me to occasionally be one.

I also remember that “trembling joy that comes with standing on the edge of a cliff and gazing into a wide-open future–knowing the time will soon arrive when she’ll be forced to jump, but not knowing where she’ll land. ” Scary, but good.

Thanks for sharing.

Jen T.

18 08 2006
Anonymous

This is a wonderful paradigm, Jeanne. I’m not sure who it was that said, “The world shall not perish for lack of wonders, but for lack of wonder,” but somewhere along the way we leave the yard and the big tree and leave behind wonder. In the midst of our grownup-edness, we must remind ourselves of that magical place where blades of grass are towering oaks.

mike duran

18 08 2006
jeannedamoff

Thanks, Jen and Mike. I decided years ago that no amount of growing up was worth forgetting how to fly. One simply has to learn how to conceal the wings when the propriety police are out and about.

(Mike, so great to see you around these random parts! Do come again.)

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