Answer

Quietly at bedtime, alone, my children each often ask me questions. It is not to stall off bedtime, but because the questions come at night. We all know this well.

In their dimly lit rooms, another day behind them, I think it is not just an answer they are looking for, but the sound of my voice, owning the question. Owning it beyond the place it has taken in their mind. In the glow of the nightlight they search my eyes, reach for my hand or press their bodies closer to mine, lying beside theirs to read before bed.

Sometimes it requires a scientific explanation as to why something occurs or what might happen next. More often, they are deeper questions about a feeling or reason for something that lies outside of our logic. When it is so, I tell them I do not know. I share what I think about it and ask them to share too.

In the dance of sleepy dialogue our whispering voices try to make sense of what we don’t know. For a moment, in the journey from innocence to growing up, with the backdrop of their babyhood stuffed animals mingling with their growing collection of big kid interests, there is our fascination with one another’s thoughts on the question.

Our answers are discovery and faith and the uncertainties of life. Courage and hope. There are tears. There are hushed giggles. A hug. A finishing place for now.

These questions teach me about my children and teach me about myself.

“I love you,” I say, bless them, and give them a kiss on the forehead.

Sometimes these questions sit heavy on me when I leave their rooms, and I know that our finishing place and hug has not lifted it from them either.

Tonight, I thought of the concrete (or seeming concrete) answers we look for in books (or maybe Google) and the ones that we look for in other people, seeking out others’ perspectives as the water to run through us. Like my children at night time, have we not all wanted to reach for someone’s hand, so they could own the question with us, even when there was no solid answer to be found?

Can’t we, in each interaction, hold our questions together – the smile on the sidewalk, the eyes that meet ours in the check-out line? With warmth, we can be the answer.

I offer you my questions, willing you peace for yours.

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