I tugged on my shoes and put on my mask for my afternoon walk in the neighborhood. I was in need of movement and a change of scenery from the four walls of my room.
When I turned the corner I saw a young woman halfway down the block pushing a stroller, her long brown ponytail swaying with each step she took. I recognized her instantly—my daughter—and called her name. She turned around, waved, and waited for me to get close, but not so close that we violated the social distancing rules. We chatted for a few minutes, and I cooed to my granddaughter in the stroller, my arms aching to hold her.
My daughter started back on her way home. I closed my eyes and memories of her childhood washed over—the smell of her hair when I rocked her to sleep—the innocence in her eyes—the warmth of her little hand in mine. Now, she is a mother, blessed with that powerful love that breaks open the heart and sends it out into the world in our children. I opened my eyes and saw my heart turn the corner and push the stroller out of sight.
“Thank you, God, for my children and their children. Keep them safe,” I fervently prayed. I didn’t bother to dry the tears of longing to be with my family as I continued on with my walk.
“You know one of the things I miss because of this pandemic?” I asked God as we went on our daily walk through the deserted neighborhood.
“Tell me, Sparrow,” God answered.
“I miss seeing and hearing the children outside. I miss their shouts of joy and laughter.”
“They will return,” God said. He paused, then continued, “Children only know to love, until they are taught to fear and hate.”
We walked on a little farther, and He said, “Be like a child, Sparrow. Unlearn your fears. Let go of your hate.”
“I’ll do my best,” I promised. Just then a neighbor walked out of her house with her toddler. I waved to the two of them—the toddler laughing back. It was the sound of God’s joy. It was the sound of love.
He touched her hand…
“Rock me, Grandma,” Bella asked, her brown eyes full of love as we played in her room. “I want to go nigh-nigh.” I turned off the light and lifted her up into my lap and let her drape her small weight against my chest. She moved her hand around as if searching for something. When she found my hand, she curled her fingers around it and held it.
I rocked her until she eased into sleep’s embrace. Gently, I took my hand away from hers and lifted her into her bed. I pulled the covers up around her and stroked her soft curls and kissed her forehead. “Goodnight, Sweet One,” I whispered. “I’ll see you in the morning.”
“God, I’m like Bella,” I thought to myself. “I want your hand to hold at the end of my busy day.”
“Climb into my lap, anytime. I’ll hold your hand and rock you,” God answered softly. “No matter how old you become, you will always be my child.”
“Thank you,” I said and tiptoed out of the room and closed the door.
“And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become
like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
I pulled out a long row of Shasta daisies that had taken over the front of my flower bed. As I worked in the gentle sun of the winter’s day, my thoughts focused on my problems. Slowly, I sunk into a bad mood. A squirrel scampered into the garden and sat up, begging for peanuts. “Thank you,” I said to her. You’re a good distraction from my self-induced misery.” I stood up and got the bag of nuts. I threw her a handful.
“Do more than feed the squirrel,” God urged.
“Do you want me to feed the crows and the jays, too?” I asked.
“No. I want you to do more than distract from your negative thoughts,” God explained.
“If you only distract, you’ll eventually return to your judgments and feel miserable again,” He said. “Become childlike instead of judgemental.”
“Wait. What? You’ve lost me,” I said.
“Children are innocent. They see the world through eyes of curiosity and wonder. They don’t judge until they are taught to fear and hate,” God said. “Look at your life with curiosity and wonder. Don’t judge. Look with kindness and compassion, the very same way that I look upon you—with love.”
I watched the squirrel eat the peanuts. She wasn’t concerned about her problems. She lived in the moment. I took God’s words to heart and promised I would do my best to become childlike. I’d do my best to see my life, including adversity, including my past mistakes, through the lens of innocence, and wonder. I’d look at everything as if I were looking into the eyes of God. Such peace that would be!
“And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children,
you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus knew we had become hardened to the mystery and delights of life. He told us we had to change. He told us that we needed to be childlike, full of curiosity and wonder. Children are receptive. They don’t have anything to prove. They haven’t built up walls to keep love out. They unabashedly plow headlong into their feelings and explore their boundaries. And, they play.
Adults, on the other hand, are often closed off. We think we know all we need to know. We have trust and intimacy issues. How much better our lives would be if we allowed the walls we’ve built to come down. How much better our lives would be if we became more curious, more open to exploring how we feel and how others feel. Imagine too, how good life could be if we stopped being in charge and allowed God to take the wheel. Think how freeing that could be! We could play more, instead of worrying.
Why don’t you knock on God’s door and ask Jesus to come out and play? See what good fun the two of you can get into. Enjoy!
“So God created man in his own image…”
I went to brunch on Sunday with my son and his wife and their four-month-old baby girl; my first grandchild. My son held her in his arms as he ate. As I watched her, I thought of the children in the world who are born into war-torn areas or poverty or homes where they are unwanted or abused. I thought too, about God’s color palette. As the old song goes, “Red, yellow, black, and white, all are precious in His sight”
My granddaughter’s life is no more important or precious than any other child’s life. Every child is a gift from God. God’s palette contains all of our wonderful colors that He loves equally. Let us not forget that. Let’s do our best to set aside our fears and judgments about each other and instead, turn toward each other in the knowledge that we all belong to God. We are all His precious children. Let’s take good care of His things, shall we? Let’s take good care of each other.