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Lucia was two.  “I need that!” she exclaimed.

Wow!  To be able to express so clearly and with single purpose something I want deeply!  On Tuesday, a very hectic day, I needed a chocolate-dipped cone at Dairy Queen.  Lucia taught me to say that, out loud, with conviction.  I NEED a chocolate-dipped cone at Dairy Queen!  And we didn’t just go through the drive-through.  We went in, sat down, and savored the ice cream and our time-out from a very hectic day.  One-pointed attention they call it.  Paying full attention to whatever we’re doing instead of allowing our minds to skitter off in several different directions.  Mmmm.  Chocolate-dipped cone at Dairy Queen.  I need that!

“Piggy blew the house down!”  Lucia exclaimed over and over in wonder at a retold fairy tale where the little person-pig had the power.

A sense of wonder at some incredulous thing or idea.  Can you believe that piggy blew the house down?!  I kept thinking about how astonishing that was.  And how that sense of wonder infects everyone around.  How can you be around a spontaneous, full-of-wonder two-year-old and not be infected?   They give their full attention to what is at hand.  Most of us, at some time or other, forget how to do that.

“I running!” she exclaimed as she ran laps around the chairs and through the middle of the living room.  Joyful.  Proud.  Such a simple thing.  Running.  She was running for the sheer joy of running.  Her whole body was running.  Look at me!  I can do it.  Every cell in my body is shouting for joy: “I running!”

A week or so after Lucia’s visit, I went to the CSU experimental gardens to photograph flowers.  There was a time I would have hurried through the garden, shooting this and that, hoping for a few good results.  But this time I paid attention to each bed, each color, each flower, looking for small details that would make my photos more interesting.  It was a “piggy-blew-the-house-down” moment, a full morning of wonder.  “I shooting!”  Every cell in my body was shouting for joy: “I shooting!”

Then, after a wonderful morning at the gardens and processing the photos and being very happy with the results, my heart grew heavy.  A vague, fog-coming-in feeling enveloped me and choked me to tears.  It wasn’t until I was rearranging pictures of the kids on the refrigerator that it hit me:  I MISS Lucia.  I miss her exuberance, her joy, her piggy-blew-the-house-down moments.  I want to soak her up.  I NEED her. I need her unbridled joy.

Somehow she opened up a lock on my closely-guarded heart.

“What words do you have for me this morning?” I asked my journal.  What am I to do with these feelings?  How can joy and wonder and being honest and open with needs and wants drive me to tears?

…and from my left hand, these words came…

She reminds you of what you came into the world with.  You were much like Lucia, full of wonder, full of joy.  Wanting to run, to exclaim, to even demand.  You were too much joy, too much energy, too much innocence for a house of pain and responsibility.  It was too much contrast to the pain and seriousness of the times.  The war was over but at what cost?  The world could still be destroyed.  The big people were carrying a very heavy load, and sometimes the contrast was too much: the hard times, the seriousness of the world and the personal pain contrasted with the sheer exuberance, energy and joy of a child.  They did the only thing they knew to do.  They told you to be quiet, to quit being silly.  They didn’t see the wonder of piggy-blew-the-house-down.

But you do.  You did then and, once again, you do now.  It’s taken years to get closer to where you came in.  Lucia showed you, reminded you how it felt.

I cried off and on all that day, whenever I thought of it again.  My tears were for the generation before me who had experienced the pain of war and had lost so much.  My tears were for myself, for hiding my joy and wonder for so many years.  My tears were a sense of relief beyond grief.  Another layer had been shed and more tears tightly held inside found their way to the surface.  I let myself feel some deep feelings I had held at bay for so long.

Thanks to a little girl named Lucia, I am claiming the piggy-blew-the-house-down moments.  Even in the face of all that is wrong in the world, I will notice what is right in the world, what is beautiful, what is filled with wonder.  In a world of too much pain, I can still choose joy, wonder, and gratitude.

Anne Lamott put it this way:  Some of us periodically need to repeat the joy training, rehabilitate the part of us that naturally dims or gets injured by busyness, or just by too much bad news to bear.

Thank you, Anne.
Thank you, Lucia.
I running!