Reading with my children is a place I find my church. It’s where my skin becomes soft and my soul is transported. The Island of Yummy became established as an institution when my babies were young. With one in each arm, and a book open between us, I could always find that fountain of Love. Today, in celebration of Earth Day, I take a look at the book entitled On the Day You Were Born by Debra Frasier.
It’s Earth Day, the best excuse we have for saying Happy Birthday to the earth. At my home, on birthdays it is our ritual to read On the Day You Were Born by Debra Frasier.
There are some picture books that are for babies, some for kids, and there are some that are for families. This book is one of the latter. I read it at each birthday and try to make it to the last page without crying. Typically, I need a tissue.
The drawings are simple and vibrant. They tug at a primal piece of me that longs to be connected with Mother Earth, my first mother. It is as if Ms. Frasier has an umbilical cord of her own plugged into that nurturing influence.
The pages one by one describe a world waiting to welcome a baby from belly to the wild playground of life: We think about gravity and how it is a promise to never allow us to float away. We see the phases of the moon and their tug on the oceans’ tides washing beaches for our footprints. We witness tall trees that make oxygen for us to breathe. All of these things are yearning to be shared with the baby, “waiting in darkness, tiny knees curled to chin.”
As the baby slips into the world, a chorus of voices sing, “Welcome to the spinning world. We are so glad you’ve come.” It reminds me that my children were a great gift to me and that we waited, eagerly for their arrival. As I read I touch that moment again of their vulnerable beginning and remember that they are vulnerable still, needing oxygen each day, making footprints that can be washed away by ocean’s waves.
But it is not just vulnerability; the delight of Ms. Frasier’s book is that, she captures the profound paradox that what is most fragile – the air we breathe, the footprint we can wash away – is also our great stamp of a life well lived. When we fill our lungs with oxygen we are inhaling entire forests in the Amazon. When we leave our footprints on beaches for the ocean to swallow, we feed seas that cover more than half the planet and nourish us daily. I want to be as mindful of what I’m feeding the earth as I am what I feed my kids.
So, today, as I think about the birth of a planet like I might the birth of one of my treasured babes, I reflect about what this big blue ball might need in the coming year just as I do with my children. Where my kids might need new jeans and lessons in cleaning the kitchen, I think our planet needs to be fed more delicate footprints.
As I walk this year, I want to remember my host. She is supplying the oxygen and the water at the table each and every day. I’d like to tread more lightly so that she will continue to say, “Welcome, I am so glad you’ve come.”