I am sitting by the lake watching four girls scooting along the path. They are the Speed Angel Sisters and they are fast! Every now and then the girls veer off onto the grass and come to a sudden halt: a pedestrian is approaching. Now the speedway is clear again, and strong legs start pushing, wheels are revolving, hair flies back and sounds of laughter drift towards me.
Four tired girls drag themselves back to the picnic table. They are breathless and red faced, but joy pours out of them.
“Wow! That was fun,” Sophie exclaims as she plops herself down next to me.
“Thirsty? Hungry?” I ask and four heads nod emphatically. I pass out drinks and slices of cake, and for a few minutes there is not a sound except for the screeching of the sulphur-crested cockatoos which are flying overhead. The birds catch our attention as they circle above us. Soon we are identifying all the birds we can see. A black and white bird on long thin legs struts by and we wonder what it is. The bird book is opened and soon a positive identification is made: a magpie lark.
Talk turns to autumn and deciduous trees. Then the girls take a walk around the lake gathering leaves and noticing the different tree shapes. They take photos of birds and leaves and the lake and each other. They are thinking of scrapbooks and stories. When they return to the picnic table, they unpack the sketch books and pencils. Soon four girls are busy drawing, and while they are working, we continue to talk. Why were all the non-native ducks ejected from the lake? Where did they go? Didn’t they have a right to live at the lake? Weren’t they born there? And if you are born somewhere doesn’t that give you a right to call a place home? What about all the non-indigenous Australians? But also, what about the Aborigines?
The girls are rested. It is time for more lake-side scooting. Pencils and sketch books are tossed into the basket and scooters are grabbed. They run down to the path and are soon flying along.
I sit and watch my girls, and my heart overflows with joy. Here I am with four of my children enjoying the autumn sun on a Thursday morning. I look at the blue, blue sky and the sun shimmering off the water, the coloured leaves, the birds… and the beautiful smiles on the faces of my girls. It is a perfect moment, a moment I want to remember forever. Surely I must be the most blessed mother ever?
I wonder about joy. What is it and where does it come from? What is it that is flooding my heart? Could it be love? Could it be God? And I remember some words from the book “I Believe in Love” by Fr d’Elbee:
“Do you think you are a joy for Jesus?”… is it not a matter of elementary logic that a father and his child should be a joy for one another? “Jesus You are my joy, and I, too, am Your joy. Is it not written that “His delight is to be with the children of men”?
I think about how my children love me. I think about their trust, their delight and enjoyment of life, their joy. And I wonder: Am I like a child? Do I trust? Am I a joy and delight for God like my children are for me?
The morning is over. We are driving home. I reflect on what I have learnt today. What have my children added to my education? I think of the number of birds and trees I can now identify and how I can explain how photosynthesis works and why leaves change colour in autumn. I think of the sketches and the photos and the scrapbooks I might help make. I recall the dilemma of being a non-indigenous duck. I could have learnt about the fun of scooting. I could have been a Speed Angel Mother flying along with the wind in her hair. Yes, it has been a morning packed with education.
But there is one more thing I have learnt, something much more important than identifying birds or trees, or taking good photos.
I have learnt about joy, about a mother and her children being a joy for each other. And how important it is to slow down and spend time together learning and sharing together, loving and enjoying each other. How many times do I say “I’d like to do that with my children… one day… when I get time”? But time moves so fast. My four scooting Speed Angel Sisters will be grown up before I know it. And will I look back and wish I’d spent more time just enjoying my children, delighting in them, experiencing the pure joy of being their mother?
And will I have been God’s little child scooting along through life with trust and confidence, delight and abandonment? Will I have taken joy in Him who takes joy in me? Will I have tried to love as He loves me?
Next time we go to the lake I think I will borrow a scooter and race my girls around the lake. I can just imagine their faces: they will be lit up with huge smiles of delight. Pure joy will radiate from my children as their ‘old’ mother throws caution to the wind and attempts to be a little child.