Wednesday, September 28, 2011

La'Shana Tovah!

"...In the seventh month, on the first of the month, there shall be a sabbath for you, a remembrance with shofar blasts, a holy convocation."
-Leviticus 16:24

Happy Jewish New Year!

If you don't know what I'm talking about, let me fill you in. Tonight marks the start of Rosh Hashana, a holiday in which we Jewish people celebrate the beginning of our new year. This year is 5772- the year of the latkah (or so I just declared it). It's gonna be a good one.

Rosh Hashana is a special holiday- it is a celebration of new beginnings, and a hope for new life. That hope lies, for most Jewish people, in the idea that tonight and for the next ten days, they have the chance to have their names written for another year in the Lambs Book of Life- God's document which discerns who gets into heaven and who doesn't. Many believe that their name is put in here based on how they've behaved this year- have they been good? Have they served God? The holiday marks the beginning of a ten day process, the time in which you have to get your name into the book. It ends with Yom Kippur, the day of mourning and atonement, in which many sacrifice food for a 24 hours period to show their sorrow. They will sit in their congregations for long services, recite special prayers, and hope that their sorrow and repentance does the trick and leaves their names in the book for another year, as it will be sealed on that last day.

For Messianic Jews, of course, this is a different kind of celebration. We believe that our faith in the Messiah- in Jesus, is what gets our names into that book. And no ten day period can get them out. There is no renewal clause. We only have to atone once- by confessing that we have sinned and we need the savior to take away what we've done. And that's that.

So each new Rosh Hashana is a chance for me to ask myself this question: What am I celebrating this year? What has God done that has shown me a little more of who I was, who He is, and who I am becoming in Him? And each self reflection is a time for me to see if I've come any farther in the last year.

Unfortunately, my self reflections aren't always very encouraging.

See, as we look at ourselves, not through our eyes, but through the eyes of our loving Father, we start to see ourselves for who we really are. We start to understand the darkness of our hearts, and the evil that lurks within us. We start to realize that we should have been a lot further than we are, that we've had more than enough time to make what we have work. It's almost a little depressing to reflect on ones self, especially when one knows all the deep dark secrets that one's soul holds.

Switchfoot, a popular band, has a song entitled "The Blues", in which lead singer Jon Foreman sings an emotional account of the sadness that can come with a new year. He talks about a number of different negative emotions that can come when reflecting back on time lost. "Is this the new year," he asks, "Or just another desperation?"

Sometimes it is easier to fall into the trap of how far we have fallen. It's even easier to push our own disappointments back and pretend that the things we have done in the last year are enough, even though we believe in our deep hearts that they aren't even close. But God sent the savior for this very reason- so that when our self reflection leaves us feeling like an old sock in a new drawer, we know that the time we spent has not been in vain- He is using us.

And so, this year, I will celebrate the New Year, not as a new beginning alone, but as a reminder that no time I have anymore is wasted, because the Savior lives in me, and is using me. And I will celebrate that I do not have to worry, because I have certainty that my name is in that book, and I don't' have to stress about it. I will celebrate the freedom that comes, not just with the new number at the end of the date, but with every day that I get to live in Messiah.

La'Shana Tovah, Tikvah Tenyu- May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.

And on the end, forever.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Hope, Love, and Magic

"To let a sad thought or a bad one get into your mind is as dangerous as letting a scarlet fever germ get into your body. If you let it stay there after it has got in you may never get over it as long as you live." 
~Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

Few books about children captivate me the way The Secret Garden does- maybe because few books so carefully capture the carefree love of adolescence. If you've never read it, you've missed out on the enchanting tale of a young girl who no one really loves being given the chance at a new start, and finding that life actually agrees with her when she discovers all that is really important in it. I warn you now, the rest of this entry is filled with small spoilers, so if you haven't read it and you think you might like to, stop reading now. 

The story starts long before Mary's time when a man named Archibald meets a woman named Lily, and they fall in love- they begin their life in a big house on the moors of England, with a brand new baby boy, and a garden with roses and other beautiful flowers and plants that mirrors only the beauty of Lily's life, attitude, and her most intriguing feature- her eyes. 

But when Lily dies in an accident in the garden, Archibald Craven starts to lock doors- the door to the garden that she once loved, the door to his own heart, and the door to his baby son, whose eyes are so like his mothers, that Archibald can only even look at him when he sleeps. 

10 years later, an outbreak in India causes the death of relations of Craven's, leaving behind only their own progeny, a little girl who no one has ever taken the time to get to know, who has never been outside, and who is very disagreeable and dislikable. And her own sour mood is the canvas on which the plot is inscribed- the story of her transformation, as well as the transformation of her cousin when she discovers him in the room where Craven has kept him. The story also revolves around another young boy, whose heart is so pure, and intent is so good, that the children believe him to be an angel.

I won't say more on it - if you want more of it, read the story, but I will say this- over and over and over again, the author brings in magic. The children believe that the "magic" is the cause of all their good fortune. Magic is how Mary ends up in the garden, despite it's unattainable state- it is how Dicken, the good hearted boy, attracts the animals and plants that seem to blossom in his presence. It is how Colin, the locked away child, learns how to live like a normal boy instead of an invalid. The magic is credited to all of the changes in the children's lives.

Let me give you my take on the magic that these children find based on how they are:

Mary, a little girl whose parents spent no time with her, who was raised by nannies commissioned to give her anything she required or requested, and who knows nothing of friendship, finds the magic after being introduced to some of the house people, and learning about who they are and where they come from. First with the maids, then with the gardener, and then with his friend the robin, she begins to see that she may want other people in her life- that she may like to hear them and what they have to say.

Colin, her cousin, has known all his life that he had no mother. His father refuses to be in the same room with him when he is awake. He has the guilt of a child who doesn't know what he's done wrong, and he is certain that he will eventually die, a fate that he has been waiting for all of his young life. He finds the magic when he discovers he has a cousin- a girl who will be his friend and set him straight, not just because she has to because of her job, but because she actually wants to know him. And then, he meets Dickon, and he sees something to aspire to- someone who believes that everything is possible. And suddenly, with the magic, everything becomes possible.

And finally, there is Dickon, who knew the magic was there all along. Dickon comes from a large family of brothers and sisters, and a mother who is a wise woman, and a wonderful care taker. Dickon never feels disliked or unaccepted. He doesn't struggle as the others do with the feelings of cold silence or loneliness. He believes in the magic all the time, because he has always know the magic, for as long as he's been alive.

Have you guessed my theory? The magic... it's love.

Love is what brings the three children together. Love is what creates the air of hope and purity- not romantic love, not forced love, but natural, unrelenting love that the children begin to feel for one another. They are just little ones playing in a garden, nurturing the earth. But they become a small family, a tight knit band of people who are changing daily. They begin to want to know each other, and then other people as well. They are honest with each other, and the share secrets and dreams and hopes and fears and thoughts. They are the embodiment of unconditional love.

The Secret Garden has made it's way into my heart because it reminds me of childhood. It reminds me of a time when things were simple and possible. It reminds me of late summer evenings sprinkled with fireflies, of early fall mornings gazing out the window at the trees, of fire lit evenings praying for snow, and of smiling spring afternoons, feeling the breeze sweep through the air with a severe speed. It reminds me of the times when if I was given my bit of earth, I could make something grow. I knew my fair share of Dickon's and Colin's, and Mary's too, and I have been all three to others- we all played a different role in everyone's own garden story. But we all knew how to love then- we all knew how to make magic.

However, before you lose hope, or think that maybe I have, let me tell you this one last piece of the story. Archibald Craven comes back into the end of the story. He has run away from his home, trying to separate himself from the memories of his past by secluding himself from his future. But one morning, he wakens to find a strange feeling of comfort. It's feeling that he doesn't understand, that he doesn't know why he is feeling, but he recognizes it. And it changes him too, despite the fact that he is so far from the magic. It seems that the magic is without borders. And the magic infest this man of great pain and dislike in a very simple way- in hope for the future.

Life is never without loss, sorrow, and disappointment. It impedes our chance to love one another as best we can- as children. But if we truly search for love, even just a little bit, within our hearts, it will find us. We can hope for it always, because it will come back for us when we need it most.

If we give in to the child-like magic that surrounds us, we can feel love again as if we would live forever, as if the whole world were possible, as if love would never leave.

One final thought- if God is love, and God is unconditional, and God is everywhere, then how easy is it to love if we just follow Him? He is the great example, the greatest source of love in my life... and when I really pay attention, He reminds me that I will live forever. That everything is possible, and that love, true love, never left me, and need never leave you- not even for a second. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Laundry Laundry, Everywhere

"My house is clean enough to be healthy, and dirty enough to be happy."
  ~Author Unknown

To be fair, most of the clothing that currently litters my bedroom is actually clean. It's simply waiting to be pushed into it's drawers, or hung on hangers, or given to someone else who it really belongs to, even though it's ended up in my laundry basket.

Also in the interest of fairness, it's only been there for two days. Some, if not all of it, will likely get put away before I pull some semblance of covers over my chin tonight, close my eyes, and dream.

But it is currently taking up a lot of space in my very small bedroom. And while it doesn't look great, and it's not an appealing place to invite people over to right now, I'm happy that it's there- it represents a lot more than clean clothes.

Once upon a time (and not too long ago, at that) I would have never had clothes on my floor. For a very long time, I could have nothing on my floor without freaking out. If that meant that I was sitting up late one night, (or early one morning) until the room was clutter-less, then that's what it meant. I took pride in the fact that my room was ridiculously clean- and worse, I took comfort. If my space was dirty, my world was out of sorts. Things on my floor left me feeling existentially questionable- was I a careless person for leaving my things left about? Did responsible and respectable people ever let their space be inhabited by possessions? Who was I if I wasn't even capable of putting away my life before bed?

Now it almost sounds laughable, but back then, it was a ridiculous obsession. You only have to pull a few four am nights before you realize that other things have to give. And I gave. I gave up plans with people. I gave up hobbies and opportunities that intrigued me. I may have even skipped a few homework assignments (although for that one, I'm not really that sorry). I gave and gave to make sure that my room, and the appearance that it gave of itself, and of me, were beyond tidy.

So tonight, looking at the pile of stuff on my floor (which may be more than clothes at this point- there might be a few bags and boxes, some stockings and hair pieces, and some things I have yet to put away), I am not just looking at the junk of the last 48 hours. I am looking at an improvement in my own life. I am looking at the product of a girl whose been negligent in her cleaning, because she has had other things to do- other social events to attend, other hobbies to follow through on, and the twinges of real life, seeping in where it belongs. I even chose, dear reader, to write this before I cleaned it up.

And I am proud of how far God has brought me, how He has taught me the true meaning of life. He has taught me that people and passion take precedents over a few piles of stuff (within reason, of course). He has taught me that a clean appearance is nothing more than a show, and in the end, I have no one to be showing off for, except for the one who sees through my antics. He has taught me that His love heals addiction and obsession, and that I am his perfect child. and that the clothes on my floor do not represent who I am.

He has taught me that I am His, His very creation, and that even with a messy floor, I am made to serve and praise Him, and the clothes on my floor have no power over that.

Take that, existence.

Laundry Laundry, Everywhere

"My house is clean enough to be healthy, and dirty enough to be happy."
  ~Author Unknown

To be fair, most of the clothing that currently litters my bedroom is actually clean. It's simply waiting to be pushed into it's drawers, or hung on hangers, or given to someone else who it really belongs to, even though it's ended up in my laundry basket.

Also in the interest of fairness, it's only been there for two days. Some, if not all of it, will likely get put away before I pull some semblance of covers over my chin tonight, close my eyes, and dream.

But it is currently taking up a lot of space in my very small bedroom. And while it doesn't look great, and it's not an appealing place to invite people over to right now, I'm happy that it's there- it represents a lot more than clean clothes.

Once upon a time (and not too long ago, at that) I would have never had clothes on my floor. For a very long time, I could have nothing on my floor without freaking out. If that meant that I was sitting up late one night, (or early one morning) until the room was clutter-less, then that's what it meant. I took pride in the fact that my room was ridiculously clean- and worse, I took comfort. If my space was dirty, my world was out of sorts. Things on my floor left me feeling existentially questionable- was I a careless person for leaving my things left about? Did responsible and respectable people ever let their space be inhabited by possessions? Who was I if I wasn't even capable of putting away my life before bed?

Now it almost sounds laughable, but back then, it was a ridiculous obsession. You only have to pull a few four am nights before you realize that other things have to give. And I gave. I gave up plans with people. I gave up hobbies and opportunities that intrigued me. I may have even skipped a few homework assignments (although for that one, I'm not really that sorry). I gave and gave to make sure that my room, and the appearance that it gave of itself, and of me, were beyond tidy.

So tonight, looking at the pile of stuff on my floor (which may be more than clothes at this point- there might be a few bags and boxes, some stockings and hair pieces, and some things I have yet to put away), I am not just looking at the junk of the last 48 hours. I am looking at an improvement in my own life. I am looking at the product of a girl whose been negligent in her cleaning, because she has had other things to do- other social events to attend, other hobbies to follow through on, and the twinges of real life, seeping in where it belongs. I even chose, dear reader, to write this before I cleaned it up.

And I am proud of how far God has brought me, how He has taught me the true meaning of life. He has taught me that people and passion take precedents over a few piles of stuff (within reason, of course). He has taught me that a clean appearance is nothing more than a show, and in the end, I have no one to be showing off for, except for the one who sees through my antics. He has taught me that His love heals addiction and obsession, and that I am his perfect child. and that the clothes on my floor do not represent who I am.

He has taught me that I am His, His very creation, and that even with a messy floor, I am made to serve and praise Him, and the clothes on my floor have no power over that.

Take that, existence.

Monday, September 19, 2011

No one ever taught me how to love

"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love."
1 John 4:7-8

What is love?

Merriman Webster offers that love may be to hold dear, or cherish. Dictionary.com suggests that it might be to have a strong liking for, or to take pleasure in. Wikihow suggests love is the following: "Love is much more than a risk, but is a risk that one can take and grasp and fall into a dark abyss or dig oneself a hole and only crawl back when you overcome your emotions."

1 Corinthians says that "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."

Few words have such vague and varied definitions.

We go through life with the notion that love is important. From a very young age, children feel affection towards those who take care of them. They feel affinity for those who they need. And then, as they get older, they start to wonder, and decide, if they are going to be the kind of people who provide for the need or provide the need itself.

We understand love long before we know the word.

Oh, there are variations- there is being in love (which is the western premise for marriage), there is loving someone unconditionally (without fail, despite the circumstances), there is brotherly love, friendly love, love for things, love for concepts- many people, for example, are in love with the idea of love.

But no one really knows how to vocalize love. No one has written down instructions on how to make yourself feel love, or how to create love, or where love is sourced from within ourselves.

As someone who follows the bible, you can imagine that this would create an issue.

See, God is adamant that love is essential. "For God so loved the world, He gave his only Son"... it's one of the first verses many christians learn. It's in this love that Christianity differs from so many other religions- the love sets it apart. And we who believe it know ourselves to be called to love the same way.

No one ever taught me how to love. Sometimes I wonder if I am doing it right.

Love is one of those things that we know that we have to do. But if 1st corinthians is to be believed, then we can't boast about it, we can't use it against people, and we really can't use it for our best interests. Love is meant to be a downright giving act, something that we do despite ourselves, and not something that at the end of the day we should be patting ourselves on the back for. If we do things out of love, we aren't supposed to turn it around and use it in our defense- "well if I hadn't loved (blah blah blah) so much, then I would still have (blah blah blah)..." It's one of those things that we just have to know how to do.

Luckily for me, I learn by example. And Jesus is the greatest example of love, because He came, He taught, He wept, He died, and He never required anything in return. He only gave a bridge to heaven, to eternity, to life.

No one ever taught me how to love. But the greatest example of love has provided me the perfect picture. And I suppose that's why the bible encourages us to follow in His ways and become more like Him. Because while He never put it into words, He knew how to make it work.

For God so loved the world, that He gave us a chance to love it to. And for that, I love Him, the first step towards loving everyone else.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Dreamy contemplations

"To sleep—perchance to dream..."
William Shakespeare's Hamlet

Last night I dreamt of ghosts.

I don't remember all the details, but I know that my family was there- not just the ones who are still living, but those who have been gone for some time- and they weren't just there, but they were healthy, and happy, and moved easily, not at all like their frail counter parts that I remember from life.

But they were't the only ghosts there- I saw remnants of my family's past- of who people in it used to be. Everyone was younger, more full of life and energy. I saw people that I remember from long ago as they were then, when I was just a child. Everyone was from a different time, a different place; even their clothes and words and ideas were foreign, once the ideas of a nation, today the ideas of history.

But I was exactly the same.

They all bonded together in the effort to create a brand new project- a mini human, if you must know (the term being homunculus) out of adhesives and other substances found in a small thrift shop in the east village that has easily become my favorite. But even the store had changed- their products overflowed and were different from what they had once been. Not bad, just different.

There were video cameras and other such equipment that they were going to use for the taping of such a project, because they believed that they were going to strike it rich right there and then. They believed that by creating this new human, by making this new form of life, they would be famous and happy.

I wanted none of it.

But in the end of the dream, the ghosts whirling in a frenzy of creation around me fell away, moving on to their own work stations to get started on what they wanted, while I sat there, playing with the tiniest bit of raw material, wondering if maybe the world couldn't use a miniature human, toying with the corners of the idea and starting to create bits of my own work right there before me.... the ghosts of myself starting to pull apart and come out as I remembered ideas and drives and ambitions that I too once had, and for the very end of the dream, I was actually starting to feel hopeful about the future and the prospects that it so closely held...

Before you ask, I was not eating, or drinking, before bed.

Waking this morning, I could already start to understand some of the smaller elements of my dream. Since the flood a few weeks back, my sense of normal has been redefined. My home, while still standing, is in the process of becoming a brand new creation- a miniature version of what it once was, at least until we can pull together the resources and make it into what we need it to be. It is a project that I have been somewhat outside of because of needing to work, but the ghosts of the past are radiating out of the walls when I walk in, urging me to remember what it once was, and leaving me feeling overwhelmed that it all has to change so urgently.

But the more involved (even in my own small ways) that I get, the more I can see it become something incredible. The more I look around, my own ideas start to shimmer throughout the empty rooms, hope begin to fill them the way the people of my life once did, beginning a new normal.

And normal as it once was is no longer the same. It was a life time ago. All this time, I have understood what people mean about feeling like a survivor or having that mentality of tragedy, because I didn't realize the speed at which normal changed, something that was pointed out to me by a mentor last night. Trips to the thrift store, the city, and all other places are on a permanent hold for now, until we can get the life we need to live in back together. House renovations are going to take a very long time. Things are going to be very different.

But I'm toying with the open canvas in front of me. I'm seeing the space in a whole new light. I may be here longer than I wanted to be- but I've got the raw materials, and new blue prints for the future, and the ghosts that I dreamt of last night- those people, once alive, and young, and ambitious, may be premonitions of the people and the lives to come.

I am a different person, in the last few weeks. The old life is just a ghost of who we all once were. But the new life is already starting, making me feel happy and ambitious, as if this may be the new beginning- the chance for happiness- that the people in my dreams were waiting for, that the world is always waiting for, and that I am suddenly hopeful of.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Taking time out of the bottle

"Don’t count every hour in the day, make every hour in the day count.”
Unknown

I have a Wii that sits on top of one of my shelves. It was a gift from my parents for a holiday of some sort a few years back. I wanted one for one reason and one reason alone- even before it was released, I knew that I was going to want to buy, and actually be able to play, Epic Mickey.

If you don't know what Epic Mickey is, go into your local video game store and inquire. The quick summary: Epic Mickey is a single player game in which you go through different levels that reflect different disney themes and objects, with a paint brush. You basically create the world with the paintbrush to get through the levels. Sprouted throughout each one, you stumble upon disney references from years past. There is a certain nostalgia to the game that called to me even before it was released. 

Last year there were two snow logged games in which I got to play the master peace. I haven't touched it once since. 

On my bookshelf, there are all kinds of well intentioned works. I've got everything from the Idiots Guide to Publishing Children's Stories, to Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers, to Ann Graham Lotz's Magnificent Obsession. And these are just a smaller collection of the physical books that I own, never mind the digital mess that is my library. I have more books that I haven't-but-will-someday-read than I do clothes. Or shoes. Or at this point, even DVDs. It's a disaster. 

In the corner of my room stands a lone guitar, which hasn't been tuned for the better part of three months now. I haven't even named it yet, because I really haven't gotten the time to get to know it the way that I should have. I love the sounds that it makes. I love the few chords that I have learned. I even have a computer program (another well-intentioned gift from my parents) that will teach me how to use it.

Have you guessed what all these things have in common? I don't have the time. 

I have been a working student for seven years. For the last two, I have been a working student who is running a youth program on the side. Furthermore, I have been a working student running a youth program who relies on public transportation- when it came to time, my choices were usually something like eat or sleep. never mind play video games, curl down with a good book, or learn a few new chords. 

But for the first time in my life, I am entering the fall without the attachment of school work. There are no essays to write. No newspaper articles to edit. No chapters to ready. No flash cards to make. This fall, I will actually have the time to enjoy the season as it flows by, to utilize the time that I have. 

This prospect truly intimidates me. 

What do you do to fill time when you are already over stimulated? Do you schedule things into your life as if they were like the classes you once took? Do you leave it to chance? I am not sure what to do with myself and with this gift that I have been given. I suppose I'll learn like everyone else, but the fear of making the wrong choices, of wasting time, lurks in the back of my mind. 

Lately, my mentor and I have been discussing rest. Taking time to breathe, to enjoy things you like without time construction, to be able to relax. It's a concept that I'm struggling to learn, because it's never really been an option before. But I think that there is hope in it's mastering. If I can figure out how to relax, I can stop stressing about how to use my time, and instead of overwhelming myself, I'll have enough time to figure out how to spend it.

Once I figure out how to get time out of the bottle elegantly, instead of pouring out and going everywhere, I think I'll be all set. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Forward information

"People create stories create people; or rather stories create people create stories."
Chinua Achebe 

I never liked forwards.

In all fairness, I don't like afterwords either. I don't fancy prefaces, letters of introduction, any synopsis with a plot description, and for the most part, I don't like author information. Ideally, I would rather not know who wrote the books that I most identify with- I'd rather or not know if the story is fiction or non-fiction. I just want to read the story, to make my own conclusions, and then follow my own inferences down whatever track my mental train finds favorable.

I have always been the kind of person who likes to make my own conclusions. I, like most people, don't like to be told what to think. I like to imagine the before and the after, and think about the implications of the end results and the beginnings it creates. The story continues on in my mind, through new events, new life, and deaths, and forever.

So you can imagine that these insights into the author and their purpose, and the reasons or inspiration for their writing- well, it ruins it for me. As soon as I gain the knowledge of intention, my own implications are no longer foremost. They change with the truth of the story- "did this really happen? What does that mean for what I've been thinking?" It's all very disappointing, and quite frankly, exhausting, to have to rebuild whatever back story and forward life that I have been creating.

I guess that sometimes I feel the same way with people, though for different reasons. See, with a story, I like to create the world that surrounds it. But with people, I like to create conclusions as I get to know them. I don't want to know about the past that they may embody (in most situations, anyway) unless they want to provide it for me in the course of our friendship. I want to get to know them from the start, to make my own conclusions, and to learn to love them in the way they most need it.

Gossip, in my opinion, is just a great big forward that we all get caught up in. We refuse to get to know people and the truth about them because we are so caught up in what we think we've learned before. We think we can imagine the back story because we already know "intention", but in reality, all we really know is someone's perceived take on the past, on what they think happened.

I don't like forwards because I don't like to be told how to think. So it's almost disheartening to me to think how much time I've wasted listening to people tell forwards to all kinds of different people in my past, and never bothering to ignore them, because I was too caught up in the moment, the lie, the exhilaration of a secret.

I'm giving up gossip and buying ebooks (they let you jump and tend to lack forwards). This way, everybody wins.

And with a little luck, I get to know all kinds of new people.

Monday, September 5, 2011

My friend Jonathon


"When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things."
1 Corinthians 13:11

Maybe he was a dog, maybe he was a bunny. Maybe he wasn’t meant to have the shape of an existing animal at all, but was the unique design of someone, somewhere, who had the desire to create. In all my years, I have never encountered another like him- his white polka dotted suit with the frilled collar, his stubby feet, his squishy stomach- they are all unique to him. Someone, before I was born, named him Jonathon, and that’s how I would know him for all of my childhood.

To this day I do not know his origin- he was there before my first memories. He pops up in assorted home videos- the one’s of my sister and I singing our prayers before bed, mostly. He was never my security - I had a pooh doll for that, and a peach colored blanket, both tattered by the years of being dragged through a child’s relentless movements, slowly ripping from the very core. No, Jonathon was my bedtime favorite, though he spent more time under my bed then on it (for as children, we are far less concerned with our sleeping companions whereabouts in the morning than our adult counterparts). He never complained about his position, though, never requested better or more preferential treatment.

But he also never smiled. His seamstress mother had not seen it fit to equip him with a mouth that slanted upwards. As a matter of fact, if I recall properly, she did not see it fit to create a mouth for him at all. Just a nose (pink, I think) and a pair of eyes (black, perhaps) nestled into a white fury head. His appearance was far less important to me in adolescence then his physical presence.

He lives in the attic now, next to the first grade drawings and the third grade gifted and talented projects that my parents stored for memories sake. He is waiting for something, I suppose, though as I have never been a stuffed toy, I don’t know what. In my life, he has been replaced by other animals- teddy bears, and best friends, an even, on occasion, the cuddles of a guy. My bedtime needs have changed from childhood.

Many of my friends talk about giving their own childhood favorites to their own little one’s in the future, as if this continuity will bring some sort of finality to their time with their stuffed pals. I’m not sure that I can make that same promise. If I am to have children of my own, I suspect I will give them many things; the important ones, like my heart, my money, all the security that I can, and some that I cannot. I anticipate that I will lose my own life to theirs, learning the intricacies of being responsible for someone other than myself, and I shudder at the thought of this responsibility, weighing it against my internal desire to beat my biological clock. But I think that even in this time, Jonathon will remain mine and mine alone. Because if he loses an ear, or those button eyes, I will be the one that understands that hurt that comes with it. Because I am the one who remembers hiding with him in the closest when my sisters were being mean. And I am the one who remembers watching lightening storms outside my window with him, late into the night when the thunder was too loud. And I’m the one who threw fits when he wasn’t around. He was all mine.

Yes, he is a only a toy, I’ve grown to know that. His physical presence is no longer needed. But even today, his place in my heart will never be lost.