By Beth Demme
Have you ever seen God? Like, with your eyes?
I think maybe I have.
There is a superbly wrinkled Asian grandfather who walks in my neighborhood everyday. I see him at 3:00 p.m. when I clock-in for my shift as driver of the mom-taxi. As I’m leaving the neighborhood to pick up my children from school and activities, I see his wrinkled face, always triumphant with a smile.
He never knowingly shares his smile with me, but I look for it. Every. Day.
His smile is for only one person–the sweet boy in the stroller he pushes. They stop at the bench that marks the entrance to my street. I don’t know when they arrive or when they leave. I see them only for a moment each day.
The grandfather sits on the bench and pulls the stroller in front of him. The boy seems to scoot to the edge of his seat. As I drive by, I am mesmerized by how they take each other in. The toddler stretches out his hands and the grandfather’s expression stretches into a smile.
The lines in the grandfather’s face make him look interesting. His face is a map and the lines are all the interesting places he’s been, experiences he’s had and feelings he’s endured. He doesn’t have one X marking the spot, he has a thousand Xs marking a thousand treasured memories.
The grandfather leans to the boy and smiles. Sometimes he is talking, other times he seems to be singing. In the few seconds I have to observe them, I imagine the wisdom he shares with the boy during their walks together.
The scene is absolutely idyllic. So idyllic, it is almost Holy.
In fact, maybe it is Holy.
Do you ever feel God is distant, even unreachable?
Sometimes I feel He exists “somewhere,” but not here or wherever I am. This is true in times of grief and sadness, but it can happen in happy moments too. My happiness turns into an over-ripe sense of self-sufficiency, inadvertently interfering with my ability to connect with God.
Eventually my self-sufficiency breaks down. I pull out of my driveway and see love personified.
What if you picture yourself as the child in the stroller, and God is strolling with you?
God rejoices in spending time wandering through the neighborhood with you. Then he takes a break so he can look at you up close. And seeing you makes him smile. Really smile. He talks to you or sings to you. Maybe he sings in English or Mandarin or … in the language of your heart.
In Hosea, God says he cared for the Israelites “like those who lift infants to their cheeks.” (Hosea 11:4, NRSV) I love the idea of being that infant, cradled in God’s over-sized hands, and lifted to his cheek. I can’t help but feel cherished when God is snuggling me to his face.
This is my prayer for you today, and for myself: that we can be childlike again (and again). I pray that we can be carefree in the stroller, happy to be along for the ride, enjoying time with the God who loves us.