No longer so reluctant to turn in for the night, two-year-old May often goes to bed happily with bursts of song.
But on Sunday she became a flag dancer as well as a nightingale. Tommy, May and I sit at the front during the worship service. There’s a lot going on–people and instruments on the platform, words on the screen, and often flag dancers as well. Today there was one flag dancer, and she came over and offered us flags. I chose shimmering turquoise for May and me, and May waved her flag during the entire worship service.
During Meet and Greet time, May and I shook hands with others nearby. Tommy caught sight of his older friend and raced up to the balcony to greet him.
How can I describe my feelings? I rejoiced that my little granddaughter was so utterly cherished as the flag lady told her Jesus loved to see her flagging.
And Tommy? Tommy knows he belongs. He belongs with his Sunday School teacher and pastor, with his older friend, with the others who welcome him on Sunday mornings, and with his uncle, whom he sometimes helps in the sound booth.
… Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and don’t try to stop them! People who are like these children belong to God’s kingdom.” Matthew 19:14 (Contemporary English Version)
The 3:00 a.m. alarm jolted awake the sleeping residents of my mother’s nursing home. It also woke up the neighbors. They poured out of their homes with their own blankets and coats. They helped the elderly and infirm down the stairs and outside, no small task given the number who used walkers or wheelchairs. The neighbors helped the seniors onto city transit buses to keep warm, and Red Cross volunteers distributed care packages. One kind man stood with his hand on my mother’s chair, ready to help should she need it.
But what of her two cats? People first of course, but then what of her pets? Then came the radio bulletin: a firefighter was chasing a cat on one of the upper floors! Soon they emerged—two burly firefighters, each holding a most unimpressed feline. One firefighter has more than enough strength to carry a person, but two traumatized kitties is obviously another story.
We still marvel. All the residents, staff and pets were saved. The building was not.
As their grandma, I hope that Tommy and Tina will grow up to be like those kind neighbors, racing to help others in need at even the most inconvenient times. I also hope they will be empathetic, ready to listen and understand the thoughts and feelings of others. But I hope they will never, ever understand how someone could start a fire in a nursing home.
Jesus tells of a man who was beaten and robbed, left to die by a priest and a temple worker, and then cared for by a despised foreigner.
“Which now of these three [asked Jesus]. . . was neighbor unto him that fell upon the thieves?”
And [the lawyer] said, “He that he that showed mercy on him.”
Then said Jesus unto him, “Go and do thou likewise.” Luke 10: 36, 37
Two-year-old Tommy’s cold, really cold. He’s shivering violently and his lips and nails are blue. Does he want to get out of the water? Of course not!
But it’s time. We take the life jacket off him and put it on his three-year-old cousin, Tina. Then Tommy’s mom takes Tina across the pool. Poor Tommy! His heart breaks as he watches HIS mom take his cousin across the pool with HIS life jacket. He weeps.
In the sauna, I wrap the shaking child in a towel and rock him. I pray for him, with him. “Dear Jesus, thank You that the sauna is warm. Thank You that I’m getting warm now. Please help me to stop crying now. Please help me to be a strong boy.”
Tommy stops crying and I dress him. “You’re so strong,” I tell him. “You stopped crying.”
I take him back out to the pool and we again watch his cousin swimming with his mom, this time without tears.
In the days and weeks that follow, this incident becomes a part of Tommy’s psyche. “I share Tina,” he announces out of the blue. “I share jacket. I stop crying.”
It’s become a part of who he is.
“Train up a child in the way he should go” Proverbs 22:6