Flash

hands holding

A flash in the form of a three foot, nine inch boy lit up the yard this morning. I hadn’t witnessed a pure blue bolt quite like this one before. Now, I find myself standing here, in the middle of the empty kickball diamond, scribbling notes. My question: What did I see? I don’t want to let the details slip away even if I can’t capture everything with pen and paper. Here’s what I know:

He arrived new to our school just three days ago. Today, I learned his name: Amir. When I spotted him this morning, I couldn’t tell much other than the fact that he wanted to get away from mom. She plodded along struggling to carry the boy. A short distance ahead, the boy’s father strolled, tall, proud, accustomed to big steps. He surveyed the blacktop with a king’s confidence. Protective. In charge.

Amir and mom, meanwhile, continued to wrestle. He would not be denied! With a last kick, he broke free, landing on the asphalt with a two-footed thud. Then, he ran forward several feet, stopped, dropped to his knees, reached toward his father and shouted:
“Dad! Wait!”

The urgency in his cry woke me up! How could such a sound, notches above every other noise on the playground, emanate from such a small boy? And as the blue bolt of this child’s plea flashed, I caught the eyes of several other fathers, looking at me as I looked back. Amazement? Affirmation? Confirmation?

So, how to explain the curious shift that came next? An instant when the fathers on the playground noticed one another, united by whatever the boy had released. All of us – brown, black, white, young, old – moved closer. Non-verbal but palpable – linked – boy to father, father to grandfather, back and back as far as some long forgotten beginning.

Men don’t often get along on the world’s open stage. We fight, compete, rip upon each other, and make gains at the expense of each other. When an exception occurs, I ask how could we have come to this different place? Might there be another choice? Were we not born to separateness?
Amir’s father, at least pertaining to his son, required no further instruction. As the boy ran toward father, he turned, opened his arms and received. Amir jumped up and his father caught him, placing him on his right hip. The two went forward as one.

For me, I am standing here scribbling in an afterglow: I saw one brilliant flash across a cloudy, unremarkable morning. In that light, I could approximate the worlds inside of other people. The moment became a tableau apart from time. It marked where and how we stood. That light that erased margins and scrubbed away boundaries. And then it fell back to its former dull gray.

A moment, real as the boy’s place at his father’s side. I don’t have a thousand hours or enough ink to unfurl every minute detail. We toss such tidbits aside as if they were trifles. Now, an essential simplicity shone upon me. I could have had my back turned and missed everything. Instead, strangers connected across differences by way of the heart.

Let that be all for now. For me, that’s more than I need.

 

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