Old Man River

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"Old Man River" by Jake Frost (CatholicMom.com)

By Famartin (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

We live near the Mississippi River and one day on the way home from the grocery store we were driving along the river when my five year old daughter, Miss Chatty, looked out the window and said:

“Oh look! The Mississippi!”

“Yup,” I confirmed.

“I wonder why they call it Mrs. Sippie?” she asked, using inflection and emphasis to de-couple the phonics into something new and different.

I chuckled. Mrs. Sippie, that was a good one.

“I mean,” Miss Chatty continued, “why not Mr. Sippie?”

“Uhm . . .”

“Then someone could ask you,” she raced on, “do you know Mrs. Sippie? And you could say, ‘No, but I’ve met Mr. Sippie . . .’”

She blazed onward (or “on-word”?) into new and uncharted lands of linguistic speculation, spinning out here-to-for undreamt of permutations of Mr. and Mrs. Sippie and their relation to one another, as I trailed behind in befuddlement, offering only a lame string of monosyllabic “umm’s” and “ah’s” in her wake.

But that was all right. She doesn’t really need much input once she gets going. She is Miss Chatty, after all, friend of Mrs. Sippie, a conversational force unto herself, and fully capable of holding up both sides of any discourse all on her own.

The disquisitions are always interesting—and also omnipresent. Her re-imagining of Amerigo Vespucci’s murky world of geographic nomenclature is but one example of a hundred such conversational gambits she runs—like a rubber raft shooting the rapids—all day, every day.

It’s fascinating, but can also leave me feeling like Marilla in Anne of Green Gables, “thoroughly worn out trying to follow the gyrations” of my little dynamo’s thoughts.

So imagine my surprise when she came down the stairs one morning, still wiping sleep from her eyes, and announced: “Dad, I have a mind voice. I know what I say in my mind voice, even though no one else can hear it. That’s the voice I use to talk to my guardian angel.”

My first thought was: have you considered using that voice in church?

But my second thought was: Wow! I had no idea that what I hear is only A FRACTION of all there is to hear!

Her poor guardian angel must really be getting an earful. All this time, I never knew her angel was absorbing a big chunk of chatter, delivered only in the “mind voice,” that otherwise would have been coming my way, too.

In the outpouring of gratitude that followed hot on the heels of this realization, I composed a spontaneous prayer:

Oh Angel of God, my daughter’s guardian dear

Who to her discourse commits your ear

Ever this day be her guide

And hearken to her mind voice she speaks inside

Forevermore after receiving this startling revelation, whenever I do find myself with one of those rare moments of peace and quiet, I will say a small prayer of thanks to you, my dear daughter’s dear guardian angel, knowing that just because it’s quiet for me doesn’t mean that it is so for thee.

Scripture tells us: “Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thes 5, 18.

And when you come to counting your blessings and saying your thank you’s, throw in an extra thank you for your unknown blessings. Who knows, when we get to heaven and look back over our lives, the hidden blessings, the gifts and help which came to us unawares, may turn out to be among our greatest blessings of all.

While you’re at it, offer a prayer for your guardian angel, who’s giving up the spiritual body throwing blocks at the linebackers of life bearing down on us from our blind sides, handing us saves we usually never see.

And if you think of it, offer a prayer for my daughter’s guardian angel, too—he can probably use it!

Copyright 2017 Jake Frost

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About Author

Jake Frost is the author of The Happy Jar (a children’s picture book) and Catholic Dad, (Mostly) Funny Stories of Faith, Family and Fatherhood to Encourage and Inspire. He is a lawyer in hiatus, having temporarily traded depositions for diapers and court rooms for kitchens to care for his pre-school aged children. He comes from a large family in a small town of the Midwest, and lives near the Mississippi River with his wife and kids.

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