Saturday, January 15, 2011

Stomping in Puddles

President Obama, speaking earlier this week of Christina Green, the nine-year-old girl killed last Saturday in Tucson:

Imagine -- imagine for a moment, here was a young girl who was just becoming aware of our democracy; just beginning to understand the obligations of citizenship; just starting to glimpse the fact that some day she, too, might play a part in shaping her nation’s future. She had been elected to her student council. She saw public service as something exciting and hopeful. She was off to meet her congresswoman, someone she was sure was good and important and might be a role model. She saw all this through the eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often just take for granted.

I want to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as Christina imagined it. I want America to be as good as she imagined it. All of us -– we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children’s expectations.

As has already been mentioned, Christina was given to us on September 11th, 2001, one of 50 babies born that day to be pictured in a book called “Faces of Hope.” On either side of her photo in that book were simple wishes for a child’s life. “I hope you help those in need,” read one. “I hope you know all the words to the National Anthem and sing it with your hand over your heart." "I hope you jump in rain puddles.”

If there are rain puddles in Heaven, Christina is jumping in them today.
These words struck me with extra force because I have a son not much older than nine who still loves to stomp in mud puddles, and because the shooting happened over the weekend marking the 11th anniversary of my mom's death. Such are the ways griefs can gather.

When out running today, up and back down  Rocky Butte under soaking rains, I saw to it to fulfill one of Christina's hopes by jumping in as many rain puddles as I could find along the way (results pictured).

If that takes things a little too literally, so be it, but I do recognize and accept the larger point, and I frequently reflect on it while running: we who are still living honor the dead by doing our most to breathe in the offerings of life, which means -- for those of us with the inclination -- pushing our still-living bodies to their limits and embracing the discomforts that come with doing so -- the aches, the weariness, the cold, the sloppy wetness, the shoes heavy with puddle water. These pains, such as they are, signal the presence of life, and life is still better than death if we make it so.

To put it simply, stomping in puddles really is fun.

3 comments:

Megan said...

I genuinely like you. (Not like THAT, freak.)

dale's sis - r! said...

This is a nice tribute - love you baby brother.....keep running, for all of us who can't......

Dale said...

Megan, I like you too, but not in a freakish way.

Riki, thanks. I'll do what I can.