My Son turns ten today. Am I the only nostalgic mush? Following is the classic poem by Billy Collins in which he describes the experience.
The whole idea of it makes me feel
like I’m coming down with something,
something worse than any stomach ache
or the headaches I get from reading in bad light–
a kind of measles of the spirit,
a mumps of the psyche,
a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.
You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
but that is because you have forgotten
the perfect simplicity of being one
and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.
But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
At four I was an Arabian wizard.
I could make myself invisible
by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.
But now I am mostly at the window
watching the late afternoon light.
Back then it never fell so solemnly
against the side of my tree house,
and my bicycle never leaned against the garage
as it does today, all the dark blue speed drained out of it.
This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
time to turn the first big number.
It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I could shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed.
A gospel preacher can’t allow the last word to end here, especially on the word “bleed.” Yes, adding an addendum to Billy Collins’ prose feels like putting a bumper sticker on a Mercedes, but it’s a necessary one. Here it is: While the sobering sense of grey now threatens to diminish the color of my son’s youth, there is a sure and living hope that will one day infuse life with indescribably color and cheer. It will emanate from the face of the One who is the light of the world, the light of life, the Savior whose blood and resurrection puts the bicycle back against the garage.