I’ve been (re) reading the bit in Chesterton’s Orthodoxy about the logic of Elfland, and how the wonder that exists in that story-world is to remind us of the wonder we forget of our own world.
And I’m filled with this surge of remembering. Of my capacity for wonder and delight.
Then just as quickly it is checked, by the cost of that wonder and delight.
To immerse without reserve means there is no net when I fall through the broken parts of this world.
I lost a whole litter today. Mneme’s, that I just mentioned on Monday that I was eagerly looking forward to. My first litter since just after Christmas.
At 7:30 this morning I found nine naked kitsicles. Three on the straw outside the nest were misshapen, and one was bit open and laying on the wire, but the other five looked perfectly formed. On a last wisp of hope I immersed those in a bowl of warm water, up to their noses. My wonder expanded with my hope when four of those five began to kick weakly, and make gasping motions with their tiny mouths, revealing incisors as delicate as toothpick tips.
But the motion gradually slowed. They were so cold the water cooled almost at once, and I couldn’t leave them to refresh it or their little noses would sink under the water.
I did what I could but eventually dried them and returned them to their nest, warming in front of the fire. But I knew I’d lost another litter. And I grieved it.
And I hated grieving it, because it wasn’t necessary. There were other things I’d expected to get done today. I also wanted to not-care because if it can happen now after what I’ve learned, it can happen again any time. And if it can happen any time, I am continually vulnerable.
And since I had just let two new babies into my heart, I did not want to be reminded of my vulnerability. I didn’t want to think of all the ways I could lose these delicate little lives.
~ ~ ~
But what reading Chesterton tonight reminded me of, was that I am exchanging– surrendering– deep delight for the cheap payment of neutrality. That is, in exchange for connection, and awe, and wordless wonder, I can now anticipate the worst and practice being numb both before and whether or not it happens.
I don’t limit my pain to events that are actually painful.
But the other cost of the delight– of indulging it– is being willing to look (or at least feel) like a fool.
To be surprised, burnt or wounded by something any pessimist or “realist” could have told me would happen.
I want the delight. But I’ve forgotten the road. And I still care too much what others think.
But am praying about what to do about that. And what not to do.