The God part

So now I’m a grandpa.  Which is odd, considering how inside I continue to feel like an adolescent.  But it does make for some interesting experiences.

Here’s one:

I’m babysitting Wyatt, who’s five months old.  He’s in his ExerSaucer, wobbling back, forth and sideways, drooling and gurgling at the brightly colored plastic sea creatures hanging around him.

I’m only half paying attention.  As usual, I’m lost in my own thoughts.

Then I notice he’s silent. 

I look over and find him staring at me.  

Just staring.

I stare back.  The moment lengthens.  He holds eye contact.  Doesn’t move.  Doesn’t blink.  Doesn’t get bored or embarrassed or nervous, as an adult would.  Just stares.  Smiling at me.

I smile too, but he’s making me nervous.  This moment of raw contact feels uncanny, like something beyond normal human experience.  I feel an urge to end it, to look away, or joke, or take a picture with my cell phone, or create some other distraction.

Instead I stare back.

And the thought comes, It’s like looking at God.

Years ago a client surprised me by abruptly asking “What’s a therapist’s job?”  A simple question, the sort that catches you flatfooted.  I felt really stupid.  I had to think.

Eventually I told her that I saw my job as similar to Michelangelo’s.  Michelangelo is supposed to have said, “Every block of stone has a statue inside of it, and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.”

“By the time we’re adults,” I said, “we’re all crusted over with fears and defenses.  The therapist’s job is to scrape away the fears and defenses and free the person trapped inside.”

The person inside.  The natural, unafraid, undefended part.  The God part.

Sunday school taught me to think of God as resembling Charlton Heston in a bathrobe.  That was a long time ago.  Lately I’ve come to think of God as something more like The Force in Star Wars — a sort of energy which animates and organizes things, makes spring grass sprout and wounds heal and babies grow, holds things together and makes sense of life’s pain, loss and chaos.

And when it comes to people, I think of God as the part of them that gets buried in the course of getting educated and socialized.  The part therapy tries to unearth.  The spontaneous, curious, fearless, loving part we all carry around inside us.  The God part.

The part that’s staring at me now.

god part 3


16 responses to “The God part

  • Caitlin C. Trahan

    This made me cry 🙂

    Sent from my iPhone

  • Clare Flourish

    You have a beautiful grandson.

    A facebook share pleased me today: The best listening ignites the human mind. The quality of your attention determines the quality of other people’s thinking. – Nancy Kline

    • Steve Hauptman

      Thanks, Clare.

      Attention. Yes. Remarkable how something changes when we give it our full attention. Makes the difference, finally, between whether we’re living or just surviving.

    • jpbauer

      I really like this quote “The best listening ignites the human mind. The quality of your attention determines the quality of other people’s thinking. – Nancy Kline”
      As Steve mentioned, your deeper attention gives your brain more computing power so as to better understand that which you hear. And I would go one step further to say there is an unconscious signal/message being transmitted from the listener to the speaker which brings out the optimum thinking powers of the speaker.

  • Linda

    That was great Steve!
    Oh my Gosh! How adorable is your Grandson…Congratulations on being a Grandfather.
    I feel God speaks to us in so many ways and every time I am with my Grandchildren I hear him speak through them. A gift I am thankful for everyday. Happiness to all of you. Linda

  • jpbauer

    Yes, Steve, this has been one heck of a post. It doesn’t get better than this. Five Star Rating!

  • Laura Goelz

    This is so comforting, pure and simple. Like what is seen through the eyes of Wyatt.

  • Kelley Baker

    What a great moment you received! Congrats Grandpa. I will be a grandma in July and am looking forward to having a baby around. (Although I am in FL) Thanks to you I am in a different place in my life and will enjoy my grandson in a whole different way. God Bless~

  • Lori Kaplan

    Hi Steve,
    I’m delighted to read your post this morning…. has me smiling! It’s uncanny to experience the depth of life beyond age and stage. Those are magic moments and I wish you an endless stream of them! Thanks for sharing your incredible moment! Blessings to you and your family! Lori

    • Steve Hauptman

      Thanks, Lori. Actually I’m not sure I could stand an endless stream of such moments. I’m still trying to process this one. And as I get older I realize how I (we) unconsciously structure life so as to reduce (or avoid entirely) experiences of emotional intensity — everything from grief to excitement — and that this structuring is probably the biggest single reason we become addicted to control.

      • Lori Kaplan

        Hi Steve, I so know what you’re talking about with that… the reaction pattern… based on beliefs that can run the show. And then along comes adorable little Wyatt and sees beyond all that, so free, so present, in love and joy… curious and knowing at the same time. I imagine he’s saying… ‘isn’t it cool we’re in these bodies’… let’s play!! Well Steve, I know it’s a process, and I wish you ease with it… and much joy! Thanks for sharing your beautiful reflections : )

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