How Much Is Affinity?

November 5, 2018 by

Most mornings, before heading to work in the Plough offices, I enjoy taking a walk and exploring the woods and fields around Fox Hill with a handful of four-year-olds. As we walk beneath arching oak canopies and through dew-soaked meadows of Queen Anne’s lace and milkweed, I’m often treated to the eloquent philosophies of the children.

“Ew! Gross!”

Hearing an outburst behind me, I turn around to see four-year-old Nina standing up from where she has tripped. “Ew gross, my hands got all muddy!”

Before I can offer any consolation, Taemin interrupts in genuine indignation: “Don’t say that, Nina! ‘Cuz God made us out of dirt.”

“Yeah,” pipes in Jacob, wide-eyed, “he breathed in our noses.”

Duly chastised for her irreverence, Nina wipes her dirty hands on her dress and launches into an enthusiastic interpretation of the creation of Eve.

In recent weeks, the conversations have centered around the idea of infinity, or rather, “affinity.” The kids are really intrigued by the thought. They love rolling the word around, trying it out in different scenarios, testing it for limits, trying to wrap their minds around it.

“On Sunday I went fishing with my dad and we caught affinity fishes!”

“Is twenty-three more than affinity?”

“Grandma Linda is affinity more older than you!”

They talk about infinity in terms of miles and stars and ripples and sounds and days. They delight in its boundlessness. They argue authoritatively about it, then sidle over to ask me if it’s really true.

little boy gazing at a spider

Their wonder and joy in imagining the greatness of space and time reminds me of my grandma. Walking arm-in-arm with her outside on clear-skied winter nights, I would suddenly be jerked to a stop as she all but tipped over backward to gaze up at the stars. She would hold this uncomfortable position for minutes on end, just looking. Finally, with a “Wowee!” or some other exclamation of astonishment from her, we would start on our way again. Usually, these interruptions lasted long enough for my attitude to change from “Come on Gramma it’s freezing can’t we get inside” to something more like “Wow I should look up at the sky more often.”

I’m grateful for those, whether four or eighty-four, who remind me that there is a lot out there that I can’t see, can’t understand, and can’t control in the least, and who help me to unselfconsciously marvel at it all.

This week, the word we’ve been mulling over is “paradise.” I’ll keep you posted with what we discover on that.


About the author

Shana Goodwin

Shana Goodwin

Shana Goodwin works as an editor for the Bruderhof’s publishing house, Plough, and lives at the Fox Hill Community, with her...

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  • I remember my son coming home from school, shortly after starting, and telling me he had found out what the top number was. "Invinenty", he said!! Childhood: who would have thought of it but God!