Thursday, March 19, 2009
"To Listen to Stars and Birds, Babes and Sages..."
Sometimes the Lord asks us to be childlike. Some of the days I spend with my children illuminate this scriptural admonition; they are pure, (mostly) guile-less, and quick to forgive. Other days I have to try harder to separate the childish ((re)acting on impulse, prone to pout, selfish), from the childlike (meek, submissive, full of love); the former regrettably coming more readily to me so much of the time. Anyhow, as I watch children, my own and others, I often think about what it means to "become as a little child." This week, Parker Walden taught me a lesson as poignant as any I've heard from the pulpit.
Parker is one of the sweetest children around; the kind of friend you try to pray into your own child's life. Due to fairly severe hearing loss, Parker wears an external device (part of a cochlear implant) around one of his ears. For two hours Tuesday morning, he and Henry played boy-like at the park -- making sand angels in the volleyball pit, wielding sticks as they lapped the perimeter of the park, and bushwhacked fearlessly at the forest's edge.
Just after we gave the children the "five more minutes" warning to ease the sting of departure, Parker came running over to the mom-bench, worry plastered on his little face. (Thousand-dollar) implant missing.
"Where were you playing?" Lindsay tried to provoke a memory.
"Over by the forest, in the sticks," Parker told us.
The search began. First it was just Lindsay and Parker. Soon, it was "all eyes on deck". My friend Tracy and I joined the effort. All I had to do was call it a "Treasure Hunt" and Henry anxiously offered his eyes, too.
"What are we looking for," he inquired.
"Parker's super ear."
"You mean the ear plug part?" he clarified.
We started at the forest's edge, but they'd been everywhere -- volleyball pit, playground, races on the grass. So much ground to cover...and it was all grayish, just like the implant.
We'd been looking for about fifteen minutes, which feels like a long time when you're inspecting dry grass and sand mounds. I prayed silently as I combed through the wood chips, hoping for a quick answer so we could go home, de-sand, and decompress.
A few minutes later, from the edge of the forest came the words we were all waiting for,
"I FOUND IT!" Tracy shouted.
We ran over, so happy to have located the "treasure!" She told us how as soon as they started looking, the little boys suggested praying for help. She and Parker and Henry prayed to find the implant and, "not a minute later, she moved her foot aside, looked down, and there it was." Miraculous (especially if you could have seen the twiggy, leafy, mucky, and very well-camouflaged ground we were looking in). And sweet.
The sweetest part, to me, was that as we were all celebrating and cheering, teasing about an adult-appropriate prize for eagle-eye Tracy, Parker had moved to the periphery and was quietly saying a prayer of thanks.
It was clear to me that in Parker's mind there was no element of coincidence or chance in the matter, the only explanation his believing heart could conceive was that Heavenly Father heard his prayer and helped him find his hearing aide.
It was a real-life object lesson, a condensed 101 in childlike faith. I came home wanting to find the missing things in my life (patience, simple faith, meekness, my watch), and believing that Heavenly Father will help me.