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Inner Child

But I’ve wandered much further today than I should
And I can’t seem to find my way back to the wood

So help me if you can, I’ve got to get back
To the House at Pooh Corner by one
You’d be surprised, there’s so much to be done

Count all the bees in the hive
Chase all the clouds from the sky
Back to the days of Christopher Robin and Pooh

from Return to Pooh Corner, Kenny Loggins

I love this song, and Winnie the Pooh and Peter Pan and kids’ movies. Childhood is: wonder, play,  dreams, finger painting, messiness, temper tantrums that go out of control….

As parents we become intensely focused on protecting our children’s fragile/resilient  childhoods, and probably reliving ours a bit, (Carly Simon sang: “it’s coming around again”) But there are some scary limits on our power to protect our children. I remember the time I turned my back on my preschool daughter for a moment to get a towel for her -she was coming out of the swimming pool. Only she turned back and walked in under instead. She told me she called for me under the water, didn’t you hear me, Mom?

As for our teens. we are told: if you really love them set them free, also scary.  So here’s the story of a teen sent out on an errand by Dad. Teen son is fiercely beloved, in fact Dad’s favorite. But the unthinkable happens: crime, deception by his own brothers, human trafficking and enslavement. Dad’s told his worst fears have come true, and there is no bottom to his broken heart. The son: I imagine him crying out:   Why don’t you come and help me Dad, can’t you hear me? and how could you have put me in such danger? I bet you guessed, it is thtale of Joseph and his brothers. What is certainly high drama, even a Broadway musical, suddenly seems to me to be deeply personal. From the Torah portion named Vayigash, meaning to come close, it’s about youth, emotions suppressed that finally surface, about drawing close to yourself, your childhood and your family.

And through this process of drawing close, magic happens, life is saved. From Gen 45:33 – Judah offers himself in place of the youth (Benjamin) – who must be returned safely to their father. and the words youth, brothers and father appear many times in these verses. With this proof that his brothers can change, and these repeated reminders of his father, and of himself as a youth, Joseph can no longer swallow his emotions. Though he sends everyone away, all Egypt hears his wail – I’m Joseph he declares, and then again, the second time more dramatically. Then a question burst from the guy who named his firstborn God made me forget my past: he finally is able to ask Does my father still live? Joseph wanted to forget, but there is no forgetting childhood, that’s why all the world hears, though all are sent away – it’s true for us all.  From this cathartic cry, this drawing close, the pattern of Genesis, of brother against brother,  is finally broken as this brother, Joseph, forgives the almost unforgivable. Life is saved, our lives.

An excerpt from a song by David Wilcox is called How Did You Find Me Here?

I thought I saw your footprints in the sand along the shore, I mumbled empty phrases, that sang so well before

Inches from the water, about to disappear, I feel You behind me, how did You find me here?

I couldn’t reach for rescue, I hid myself from view, I couldn’t stand to see me from Your point of view.

I knew I’d disappoint You if I showed to You this child, who was crying out inside me lost in the wild….

I think  Joseph has wandered much farther than he should, but that hurt child cries out, no longer lost, somehow healed. He finds our way back to Pooh Corner. People change, we can heal. May God help us protect the children, and may we all please heal.

Pooh Shepard1928.jpg


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