I keep bumping into people who look fine on the outside. When I stay quiet and listen, they talk on. That person is leaving a familiar rut to just talk. I prize the moment, the heart connection.
The good news: when we expose a sadness, healing begins; when we expose the truth, we live more fully. Like with the stump of a tree, reaching for the light and putting out new leaves. There’s goodness and compassion in the light.
We become like the Shepherd taking care of His flock when we listen to another. As we listen with compassion, we become a haven, a safe place. It is a gift we can give.
This week my topic for children at church was on Giving. I asked the boys and girls to name things they owned. The children named toys, games, animals. But one little girl exposed that she didn’t own anything.
Others tried to help her name clothes, hair ribbons, shoes. An animated little boy began flailing his hands to help her see she owned things. She would have none of it.
I do not own a thing, she said in a matter-of-fact manner. I did not buy them with my money, so they are not mine. She thought she had plenty to play with, plenty to wear, but they were not hers. Not really. In her mind, everything belonged to her parents.
I felt a kick in the gut. At her age, I was far more selfish than this and certainly thought I owned toys, clothes, books.
My primary goal for that evening was to get the children to think about giving up whatever they owned to God, like the boy with the fishes and bread (Luke 14:15-21). (Jesus had compassion for the thousands who were hungry and fed them with a boy’s lunch.) The children “got it.” They offered up (in a prayer) what they had to God, but this one little girl could not think of anything to give. Interesting.
God, help me to listen to her with a compassionate heart. Is this submission at its height? Is this humility? Is she at peace? If so, she is wise beyond her years.
Storytime lasts 15–20 minutes, then we move on to a game or play outside. My time was long gone. When we went outside, a breeze picked up. A bit of the divine.
What this child said about ownership has stayed with me for days.
On a higher plane, the little girl is right. We own nothing. God, the Creator, owns everything. So what is left to give back to God? Maybe, the main things: our lives, our way of thinking, our beliefs, our work and play, the path we travel, our presence, our awareness, our love and joy.
I guess I want the girl to know she has something to give back to God. I see that my lesson is not quite over for the children or for me. It will continue into next week and maybe into the following week.
My role is clear: to connect heart-to-heart and to listen with the compassion of Jesus.
The girl is a believer in Jesus, the crucified One, but I now wonder if she knows that means Jesus, the Light of the world, belongs to her and she belongs to Him. Of course Jesus will lead us....
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Photo by Pat Durmon of a sycamore stump, sending out new shoots as it reaches for the light. Near Norfork, Arkansas, August 26, 2017.