They had dreamed of a child of their own. Now their hopes were crushed. Cindy and Jim Green’s struggle to come to terms with the loss of hope began to tear them apart until the night Jim fights back. He was not willing to give up dreaming. In a desperate bid to connect he brings Cindy back into a dream of “Our Child”. Writing each quality on a piece of paper they place them in a box and seek closure by burying the box in the garden.
But wording their dreams has a power they hadn’t expected. That night their dreams take root in a child who is everything they had hoped for yet nothing their cultural or reactionary expectations anticipated. The Odd Life of Timothy Green, a film released by Disney, unfolds the story with empathy and compassion as his presence in their lives reveals the expectations and beliefs keeping them from finding joy in the child they had dreamed of just the way he was.
Their dreams clash and crumble when the other doesn’t meet an expectation of what a parent “should” do. The open anger in their confrontation is little different in it’s intent then the silent accusation of the distancing when earlier hope felt lost. Timothy has a knowing that bridges the distance between them and between others. He teaches them the depth of love they have within that can help them move forward.
As I watch the story I remember a spiritual child I fashioned with another. Two people came together one day with suit and white dress, candles and flowers, guests and ceremonies. We had named the child a couple and had let it grow to a marriage. We would continue to determine the health of that child in each interaction we shared.
The spiritual child was a relationship that never had the chance to grow into a healthy mature being. We kept forgetting that it was something between us that we both needed to nourish. Instead we brought all our fears and expectations, fighting or distancing when our “ spiritual child” did not measure up to our dreams. We had not truly listened to our own inner voice as we formed this commitment to each other. We didn’t know how to build a together with the deeper differences that kept us from meeting.
Whatever could have been between us is in the past now. What remains of that spiritual child is a sad peace at the distance where we can at least care together for the physical children and grandchildren that came from the dream we never quite knew how to let grow into what it was meant to be.
Whatever was between us is in the past. Our child could not grow without both of us being accepted as whole people with unique gifts to bring to what could have been. Holding on to the who-did-whats isn’t going to change the past. We have turned the leaves of that book. It is time to let them go while learning from the lessons.
Here are a few of mine:
I have to listen to my own inner voice. I will always have a place of mourning within for the spiritual child who did not grow into healthy maturity. I can let the memory help me live my todays into my future, if I can be gentle with the humanness within.
I can move forward with a greater awareness that dreams and expectations can often get in the way of accepting and nurturing what is. When we enter a relationship with another carrying a blueprint of what that relationship should look like we may miss what the relationship can be.
I can learn to know my unique gifts and talents that are a part of the way I interact with the world. I can nurture them and protect them from being buried inside just so that I can feel the acceptance of another. I can look at each new potential relationship and seek to know their unique gifts and talents encouraging the ways they can celebrate the person they are.
I can look within, acknowledge and honestly claim the values that are the core of the person I am. I can consider if those values can live in concert with those of another before I make commitments I might not be able to keep and stay whole as a person.
I can listen to the voice of my communications and not feel powerful enough to shape another or change their perspective without their own decision that change is needed. I can be honest enough to choose the risk of the aloneness that is lived honestly over a togetherness that does not include whole persons accepting whole persons.
For those who are at a new beginning no matter what the relationship will be named, I will leave you with these words from John Stewart:
“Interpersonal communications is the kind or quality of transaction, relationship or spiritual child that happens when two or more humans are willing and able to meet as persons by making available or sharing some of their personness – their uniqueness, active choosing, emotions and value –and by being sensitive to or aware of the other’s personness.”
Wishing your spiritual child health and happiness as you celebrate the unique personness of each of you while you learn to share your relationship together.
– The Odd Life of Timothy Green, Disney, 2012
– Stewart, John, “Interpersonal Communication – A Meeting Between Persons”, Bridges Not Walls, second edition, 1972