Good Friday morning ...
I've been told that I have the kind of face/features that naturally attracts children. Perhaps it is true!
There I was sitting in a doctor's office ... waiting to be called. You know the feeling. It's a busy place ... first appointment in the morning ... people filing in, checking in at the front desk ... not knowing anyone and feeling a bit strange ... at least feeling out-of-place, perhaps a bit uncomfortable. After all, it is a doctor's office.
In walks a young couple with two children ... a boy (Nehemiah, I found out) about three years old, and a young female toddler ("Sissy") who was just learning to walk on her own.
It was little Sissy who was immediately attracted to the old man with the glasses and the colorful tie ... seated at the end of the row. She and I exchanged several of those shy, but direct-in-the-eye glances ... coupled with a toothy smile (she had six that I could count). She then quickly made a move in my direction. With six shaky, but determined steps she was suddenly leaning against my pant leg ... her arms stretched upward in that help-me-up, silent appeal ... her face a wide-eyed, smiling picture of trust. With a quick glance to her somewhat surprised mother ... I got that unspoken nod that it was OK to pick her up.
So ... with grandfatherly joy, I reached my hands under her arms and lifted her to my lap where she immediately began to play with my tie and playfully slap at my open hands ... as little ones are wont to do. Contented to rest in the curve of my lap ... she stayed put for the next ten minutes until my name was called. In the meantime we "patted cakes," bounced on knees and made smiley faces. At times she clung to my pinkies with death-grip intensity as her feet danced delightedly on my thighs. She giggled and chortled and blubbered in the language of toddlers.
It was with a bit of disappointment on my part and unenthused reluctance on hers ... that I carried her back to her mother when I was summoned into the doctor's inner chamber. She made a slight fuss ... but only temporarily ... until distracted by what I supposed was her favorite toy extracted from Mommy's "bag of tricks."
Now that's the way to wait for a doctor's appointment! Any anxiety ... any apprehension ... any suspected nervousness vanishes in the presence of those little ones ... even when they are unknown or newly met as was my new friend, Sissy. I am certain that within minutes ... perhaps seconds (who am I kidding?) ... Sissy was refocused ... forgetting the old man with the glasses and the colorful tie. However, the same was not true for him. For he remained touched by the simple, joyful trust of a little child and the joy it brought him for those few minutes in full public view.
It is such encounters as this that remind this old man of jostling eight month old grandchildren upon the same curved lap. Their smiles and giggles, their toothy grins, their bouncy exuberance, their twinkling eyes, their soft-to-the-touch baby skin, their sweet baby fragrance ... all a wonderful, too-short-of-time experience for this grandfather of twelve.
We often live through our memories, our pictures of the mind ... that sometimes haunt, but most times energize and invigorate and challenge us to be and do and go. Our children, and especially our grandchildren, have that kind of impact on me, and I suspect on most grandfatherly types ... even those without glasses and colorful ties.
But Sissy on that day brought to my mind not only a fresh wave of memories and recollections and reminisces ... but also a batch of new longings and plans and dreams for future times when those grandfatherly visits will take place in locations like Callaway and Charlottesville and Chapel Hill and Crozet. And she stirred within me the understanding that there will be another "Sissy" someday ... or a Michael ... or a "you-make-up-the-name." He/she will make that shy, but direct-in-the-eye glance toward me ... and, before long, a move will be made in my direction and my lap and my arms will become a temporary cradle or playpen.
I am thankful for that gift ... if that is what you call it ... for I enjoy the simplicity and exuberance of little children ... but am wisely aware of the cautious fear a parent might and should have, in this day and age, of that old man with the glasses and the colorful tie. It makes me pray for parents, their little ones, and for the fears we all share in a sinful world.
But I so enjoyed little Sissy ... and Teddy ... and Alex ... and Josiah ... and Cadence ... well you get the picture!
Blessings on your weekend walking with the Lord under the cover of His sustaining grace, peace and love.