The indoor playground in the mall: the carpet was leftover from remodeling the cinema. Cubby holes for shoes lined the entrance; benches for parents formed a boundary. A large signboard listed many rules. Small children climbed rodeo-themed firm-foam obstacles.
When I was out shopping in our medium-sized Texas town, I often stopped there to let my restless firstborn son out of the stroller for a few minutes. He would crawl around and climb, get tired, and be ready for a nap, giving me more shopping time!
He pulled himself up on a giant foam horseshoe, let go, took a step, and fell down. His first step! I was so excited to witness that big milestone, and was looking forward to more walking practice. That evening at home, I tried to get him to take a step for my husband to see. But, he didn’t try to take a step again.
For three long months, he exclusively crawled. I had been around babies who were learning to walk before, and this was not the way they do it. They practice, they fall down, they laugh at themselves, they keep trying. It’s fun. I was beginning to wonder if he would ever try to take a step again. Then, suddenly, one day, he stood up and walked across the room.
Can a 1-year old be afraid of failure? Was he really waiting until he knew he could succeed before taking his second (third, fourth, fifth, and sixth) step? I didn’t think it was possible for a not-yet toddler to be so calculating, but that’s what it seems like!
Claire, in Dust (Heirs of Neverland #1) by Kara Swanson, had significantly more to lose as she learned to fly in this week’s chapters, but she faced the same fear of failure. Her self-doubt reached all time-highs.
N reentered the scene in this section, and we finally learned his true identity! He is Nibs, one of the original Lost Boys, now a pirate. To me, it seems he really cared about Claire’s well-being. But since he’s working with Captain Hook, I can’t believe that he was trying to help her trace Connor from the beginning. Shouldn’t he have known what happened? Was he waiting to feed her information when Hook was ready? Of course, now knowing that the only person in the world she believed she could trust turned out to be a pirate sent Claire spiraling into more and more doubt. But she didn’t tell Ben/Peter and Lily about this.
They tried to reassure her, as flight requires faith and trust as well as pixie dust. Lily described flying as being held up by magic, just as in standing, they were held up by the rooftop. “You can’t feel it…can’t quite touch it—you just have to believe it’s there. Because it’s so much bigger than you or me. You were born for this, Claire.”
At the peak of her self-doubt, Claire had an “episode,” like she’d had when she was 5 years old and her dust turned toxic and killed her foster mother. She was afraid that she would turn out to be useless, and she believed that she couldn’t fight her own monsters. Ben/Peter helped her through it, enduring the burns on his skin. He told her that she was falling, “letting the bad thoughts drag you down… You need to think of something else, Claire! Happy things.”
I wasn’t sure what to think about this. On one hand, we can’t ignore negative things in our lives and think happy thoughts all the time. But on the other hand, is processing through grief different from dwelling on negative thoughts in an unhealthy way, letting them drag us down?
In the end, Peter told her, “The light in you is far brighter than the darkness.” Now doesn’t that sound like it came straight out of 1 John?
I adored the conversation Claire had with Lily after that, talking about her people’s knowledge of “the Ever One.” She told Claire, “You have value simply because you exist.”
Join me in the comments! What were your thoughts about these chapters? Next week we’ll talk about the end of the book.
June 27-July 3 will be Sabbath week at Velvet Ashes. We will be pausing our normal rhythms to give space for rest and refreshment.
July our focus will turn to the Olympic Games! We will be reading Butterfly: From Refugee to Olympian- My Story of Rescue, Hope and Triumph by Yusra Mardini.
“The inspiring story of how one woman saved fellow refugees from drowning—and how she went on to become an Olympic swimmer and competed in 2016 on the Refugee Olympic Team in Rio de Janeiro.
Butterfly tells her story, from Syria to the Olympics to her current work with the UN as a Goodwill Ambassador. Mardini is eager to tell her story in the hopes that readers will remember that refugees are ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, chased from their homes by a devastating war.
Here’s our schedule for the book:
July 6- Introduction, Chapters 1-6
July 13- Chapters 7-12
July 20- Chapters 13-17
July 27- Chapters 18-22, Conclusion