1 Kings 19.9–18
Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. — Deuteronomy 6.4
Abba Arsenius prayed to God in these words, ‘Lord, lead me in the way of salvation.’ And a voice came saying to him, … ‘Arsenius, flee, be silent, pray always, for these are the sources of sinlessness.’ — Henri Nouwen, The Way of the Heart
I have a granddaughter, E., who lives with her mum (my daughter) and her dad in South America.
E. is two in October, and she is growing up bilingual. She is learning to speak Spanish and English. At the same time.
My daughter is fluent in Spanish, but she speaks to E. in English.
E.’s dad is improving his English. His English isn’t bad, it’s better than my Spanish. But he speaks to her in Spanish.
E. is growing up hearing both languages all the time.
One day, she’ll separate them out and speak both English and Spanish fluently, but right now anything goes. She was playing with the family cat the other week. She calls him ‘Gato’, which is Spanish for ‘cat’.
Gato is ve-e-ery patient with her, but when he gets tired of being poked and picked up in awkward ways, he just trots off.
It happened the other day. As he was moving somewhere quieter and safer, E. called out, ‘Bye bye, Gato’.
As far as she is concerned, ‘bye bye’ and ‘gato’ are words in the same language. (Maybe it should be called ‘Spanglish’!)
It’s cute for her to speak Spanglish right now. But by the time she’s my age, it won’t be cute any longer. She’ll need to have it all sorted out.
She will do that by listening to her parents, and to others, and sorting out which words belong in which language. E. is going to make lots of mistakes. We can’t call them mistakes yet, it’s all too cute, but one day she may embarrass herself be getting English and Spanish all mixed up. She could feel a failure if she does that.
Failure’s bad, right?
And success is everything, yes?
You know, success isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.