Babies in Scotland don't cry.
...or at least not when they're shrink wrapped in their strollers. It took a few days of me being jealous of all these adorably old-fashioned prams, before I realized I was not only jealous of the cool stroller but also of the apparently perfect child contained within. Andria and I would see these magical wee things on the bus and wonder if maybe they were American Girl dolls all bundled up or something. In all seriousness, we never did figure it out. My theory is straight behaviorism. The babies learn fairly quickly that if the pram is buttoned up in plastic then they can't cry or they'll get soaking wet in the rain. Perpetual sunshine may have its downsides.
My babies do cry. And then when they don't cry it makes me nostalgic for when they did cry. I don't mind it when someone tells me to "enjoy this stage while it lasts", much the same way I don't mind it when someone says "have a great day" or "Tatties o'er the side" (just kidding...no one ever said that no matter how closely I listened for it). It's all ritualistic bee dancing to keep us connected. One of my children came in and informed me he'd been stung by a bee. Normally this is a big ordeal that involves many tears and much angst, so it was with some alarm I checked for signs of sanity and went to go get tweezers. He'd already beat me to it though, pulled the stinger out himself and smashed the flopping bee. Well alrighty then. Later, I caught the same child digging at his hand with a knife and needle...this time removing splinters from tree climbing gone wrong. Again, usually my kids are allergic to needles and the word "splinter". It's an odd feeling not being needed to kiss, soothe and bandage.
As amazing as St. Giles Cathedral was for the last two weeks, there's nothing like stepping back into your own "parish" with your own people and pastor. There may not be ancient flagstone floors or gothic stained glass windows in our church, but it's a little easier to clean up with baby wipes when your kid smears buttercream all over the wall.
I've been trying for years to figure out what I think about Lent (which turns out to perhaps be rather Lentish in and of itself). On one hand, I grew up in a fundamentalist culture that put fasting on an unhealthy pedestal. But then fasting came back in style with Paleo so it seems everyone is doing it (and Lent) again. You can even do Lent if you're not religious at all! Everyone likes to talk about what they're giving up for Lent which seems like it should be against the first rule of Fight Club. Also, there are levels to Lent like Dante's inferno or Mario Bros. Except that each level gets you closer to God or something instead of farther away. The Ulster-Scot, American, Protestant, Puritan and Presbyterian in me has serious historic and cultural reticence about such a thing. Eating fish on Friday is level 1...giving up Facebook is level 327.
In all of my obsession with cognitive science lately though, Leithart hit a nerve when he said "Lent is the season of blood and guts and flesh. It is the supremely anti -Gnostic season." I think we have to remember that we're not just rational souls with this complex ability to reason on an abstract level (which some of us do more poorly than others). We're also physiological beings with bones and muscles and a chest that goes in and out as we suck in oxygen. Giving up something for Lent (or conversely starting something for Lent) forces your actual body to grapple with life, the gospel and sin. The key is figuring out the balance... not making either the tangible or conceptual into an idol. I appreciate the paper being bent back one way, while recognizing that it can probably safely course correct in the center a bit? Like I said... still wrestling.