Wednesday, June 11, 2014

interior design: the sacred places in your child's heart

We had just gotten to the part of the story where Almanzo's mother was squeezing through the dining room door in her hoop skirt to present the platter of ham for family dinner.  I don't know if it was the idea of family being together under one roof or if her mind had already wandered back on its own.  Whatever led her there, she snuggled up close to me and whispered - Mommy?  Do you think that man is still there?
It took me only a moment to find my way onto her train of thought.


Earlier in the day I had taken the kids on a trip to the NC Transportation Museum.  After hours of climbing on locomotives and marveling over wagons that appeared just as Laura Ingalls Wilder had penned them, we made our way back to our van.  As we rounded the corner past the picnic area Oliver was the first one to spot him - Look.  That man is taking a nap.

I glanced up and across the grassy field that separated us from the shelter that held the tables and benches.  There on top of one of the tables was a man dressed in gray with a long shaggy beard to match.  His eyes were closed and his head was resting on a duffle bag that likely held all of his possessions inside.
Oh honey.  I think he is probably homeless.

Without hesitation Lucy suggested, we should take him some food.  He's probably hungry.
We've done that sort of thing before and she remembered.
I agreed it was a good idea and said we would see if he was still there after the train ride we were hurrying to make.
We got busy and forgot.

Tonight Lucy remembered.  Laying cozy under her soft covers with her mama reading her to sleep she thought of the one whose bed had been a hard piece of wood.  When I looked at her I saw the glisten of her eyes and the deep sadness they held.
Her words confirmed what was in her heart.
It makes me so sad to think about him, mommy.

And so we talked about what happens when our hearts are moved to sorrow for someone else and what we can do in response.  In this case we agreed to pray together for that man and so we locked hands and did just that.  We considered the ways that God might answer our prayers by leading him to a homeless shelter or sending someone to give him food.  I could tell she felt better but not completely.  It wasn't until I suggested we find a local homeless shelter where we could serve that I saw her move toward contentment.  She didn't want to talk about it...she wanted to do something.

She will ask me tomorrow when we are going.  Guaranteed.

compassion :: sympathetic concern for the suffering of another

I had completely forgotten...but she was still carrying that burden for someone she didn't even know.

A six year old.

Six year olds say -
Hey, that's mine!
No fair - he got more than me!
When is it my turn?!

A six year old with compassion.

I don't think I have taught her that.
I actually believe it has been set inside of her tender heart by other hands.
All I can do is
acknowledge it
make room for it
direct it to action.

It's a sacred moment when you see something in your child that you know is too good to have come from anything you have said or done.  In those moments all we can do is hold our breath and pray for the words that will create a space for the stirring and movement of spirit to continue.

I wonder how many of those moments I have hurried right past and implore myself to
pay. closer. attention.
to what is happening in the fertile soil of tiny hearts I tend.

Have you seen precious pieces of your child that, really, if you're honest, you can take no credit for?
How can we
acknowledge it
make room for it
direct it to action
and sit back and watch the power of God's hands in their hearts.