Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Sleep and A Forgetting

I can't say it better than Mr. Wordsworth:

"Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!"

Saffron's birth as an American girl is like "a sleep and a forgetting." As she told me tonight, she finds silent tears on her cheeks in bed because she is forgetting her language, and her songs, and how to cook her native food. The soul that rises with this new girl "hath had elsewehere its setting, and cometh from afar." And just like Mr. Wordsworth says, she comes trailing clouds of glory from her previous home, and not--nor ever will or should be-- in entire forgetfulness of that home.

I told her she can make Wat on Saturday. I reminded her we have one of her songs on film, the only one she was ever willing to sing for the camera, and that I have put an Amharic course on her iPod. But I know none of this will be enough. She will forget, anyway. And that won't help with the people she's lost, whom I know she misses. Sometimes I'm torn between anger that her father gave her up and set her on a path to leave her homeland, and gratitude that it brought her to us.

Nevertheless, it is comforting to know that Heaven did lie about her, and her sister, in their infancy. They had a mother who loved them. Today is Steve's birthday, and so we went to see Secretariat as a family. Saffron told me that in the movie she had a memory of her mother. When she lay dying, she said to Saffron, "I wish I could give you something to remember me by." But she had nothing to give. "It's OK," I said. "You didn't need anything. You're remembering her anyway."

Here is a video of Saffron singing an Amharic song at her baptism in June. This one is about Jesus taking her hand to help her.