Great is the man who has not lost his childlike heart.
Yesterday I was sitting on my mother's front porch when her four-year-old neighbor, J, stopped by for a visit. I was instantly taken with her. She is such a free spirit. She had never met me, but she engaged me in conversation like we were old friends. (Maybe we were...) My mom compared her to a fairy, and come to think of it, she does remind me of Tinkerbell.
Her bare feet dancing around the porch, she tilted her head and asked, "What do you have for me?" I realize that makes it sound like she is spoiled, but it didn't come across that way when she said it. It was so innocent, so friendly. At the time I laughed, but later, it got me to thinking.
Everyone we meet has something for us. Every encounter we have with one another brings with it the opportunity to express Who We Really Are. People come into our lives bearing all kinds of gifts- laughter, love, reminders, lessons. Even the people that drive us nuts are our teachers. (Can you please remind me of this when my roommate TURNS OFF THE OVEN WHEN MY FOOD IS COOKING IN IT? Great, thanks.) Today I've been exploring how people I consider negative influences in my life have actually contributed to my growth. Try it sometime; it's challenging but it puts me in a really grateful mindset. (God knows, it's about time.)
When I spoke to my mother today, she told me about an incident that shook her up last night. Around 12:30 a.m., she awoke to a knock at the door. It was J, in her pj's. She looked up at my mother and said, "I forgot to tell you good night."
Okay, you're probably having the same reaction I did. What the heck is a four-year-old doing wandering the streets alone at night? Maybe I've been watching too much Dateline, but my mind immediately brought up sexual predators and kidnappings.
The other part of me, though, felt a kinship with J. I so
do that kind of thing. If I love you, you hear it. A lot. (Just ask Tara, she teases me about this.) When I was a young girl, my grandmother once hung up the phone without saying "I love you." She immediately called me back to say it, and I have never forgotten that. I have been known to wake up the people I love if I forgot to tell them good night (this isn't always met with enthusiasm).
All of this makes me wonder, how do we allow children to maintain their innocence and brave love for the world while still teaching them about the very real dangers that exist in it?Marianne Williamson
writes about this in her book, A Return to Love
...I watch my baby as she extends her love to everyone she meets. She hasn't learned yet that anyone is unsafe. Nothing stands between her natural impulse to love and her expression of that love. She smiles with the tenderness of her true feelings.One day I will have to teach her that not every expression of love is appropriate. But locking your door is vastly different from locking your heart. The greatest challenge of parenthood will be to support her in keeping an open heart while living in such a fearful world.
Regardless, it is such a beautiful, sincere thing to openly show that you care, and I am glad that I still have a little four-year-old girl in me. :-)