This year the girls are in an afterschool program I love, finally, after 3 years of suffering through the warehouse-style YMCA program sponsored by their school. The local community center, of which I am a devoted fan, buses the kids there, where an artist and a local preschool teacher together offer the best afterschool care this side of the neighborhood village - better than any neighborhood village I ever knew.
Today I came in, expecting to find them outside and found them inside, but with all the evidence pointing to a very recent trip outdoors. The alcove across from their classroom was filled with sticks, leaves, rocks, crafted bunnies, and the very colorful backdrop you see in front of Hazel.
I don't know if it was the color or the space or the nature which sucked me in, but when I saw this little space (which does have room for two children to sit together), I wanted to be in it - the same way I want to be in a good book (Mists of Avalon) or an alluring painting (one of my mother's Wallace Kelly scenes did this to me in childhood, two children in running from a thunderstorm to their cabin in a mountain valley). I'm big enough to know that this feeling isn't easily satisfied - it ressembles C.S. Lewis's Joy, even though I am no longer Christian - and that it remains a pull to something larger, beyond the artwork, artist, or me.
But today, the feeling was very satisfying. Because my children ARE in this scene, they helped create it with the help of a wonderful person in their lives, and finally, finally, I get to feel that someone else is helping me enrich their lives, not simply get them through it without injury or memory of harm. Hazel thinks she's looking at Mother Nature: Bunnytown, but I'm seeing something different. I am seeing happiness incarnate.