jesus be wit me

today i paddled southward down the iron shore to west end.  on my way back i saw two underwear-clad boys in a yellow kayak looking for something in the rocks near the edge.  travis and pablo are 8 and they’ve spent their entire lives on this island.  their velvet black skin is perfect for the sun and they’re much stronger than i, because they dive and get creatures from the bottom of the sea – i can hardly be in it by myself.

from what i gather, travis and pablo spend their days exploring on their bright vessel.  this particular day they had found half a windsurfboard mamed by the iron shore.  as you would if you were 8, they tied a rope from the kayak to the floating treasure and it had become pablo’s chariot.   travis the workhorse: paddling the kayak vehemently with a half-rotten 1×4.  pablo sang in his english-creole accent:

i got a girlfriend
his name is travis
and i be surfin’
i’m the king of the ocean

when i found them, they had already filled the kayak with shells and creatures they’d found on the rocks.  they spent the first 10 minutes passing me different shells and noting how small each one was, or how large the next one was, or how this one was so brown, this next one so red.   i’ve been reading GK Chesterton’s Orthodoxy and this inevitably reminded me of his beautiful point that, “as young children we do not need fairy tales; we only need tales.  Mere life is interesting enough.  A child of seven is excited by being told that Tommy opened a door and saw a dragon.  But a child of three is excited by being told that Tommy opened the door.”   i guess they’re more like the children who are three.  each shell was beautiful because it was so uniquely what it was.

travis liked to ask me questions: “where do you live?  where did you buy your beautiful kayak?  do you like to swim?  which is your favorite shell?  have you ever caught a lobster?”  pablo, on the other hand, insisted on showing me how brave he was (which was true).  he jumped around from the boat to the board and impressed me with his ability open his eyes underwater.  over….and over.  and over again.  it wasn’t until we saw a lobster on the ocean floor that there was a crack in his courage.  i told him to swim down and get it.  he hopped over to the broken surfboard yelping, “nah mon!” and once i had turned away he broke out into another song:

i be brave and strong
jesus be wit me
i ain’t skerrd a’nathin’
‘cept that big ole lobster down der.

i have a date with travis and pablo tomorrow.  they promised to teach me how to snorkel.  and to catch lobsters.


3 Responses to “jesus be wit me”

  1. 1 Christy Manfull July 8, 2009 at 8:56 am

    this post definititely made me smile 🙂

  2. 2 MommaDeb July 8, 2009 at 10:16 am

    how sweet! get you something and catch that thing! You Can Do It!

  3. 3 paul July 8, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    Little kids in other countries make the best tour guides.

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Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children.
-Kahlil Gibran

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