As I leave for work each morning I wonder what will happen when I ride in the elevator. I meet the most interesting people, usually under the age of eight. From outward appearances they are Japanese, Indian, English, Chinese, and Singaporean. The real variable is personality – each is unique! At times, I am the talk object of silent wonder. On other occasions, their parent encourages them to say hello. When that happens, it is a kick-off for amazing conversations that always leave me with a smile. Children have a wonderful ability to be totally in the moment. They also seem to know how to hold onto hope in ways that I only find in my dreams.
Two recent encounters have left me thinking about my reaction to life.
“Say hello to Uncle.” (A polite greeting consistent with local culture)
“Well hello yourself. Are you heading out to school?”
“Yes! Today is going to be a fun day.”
“Really? What is going to be fun about today?”
“Well…. I don’t know. I get to see my friends. We are going to play. School is always fun.”
He laughed and darted out of the elevator as the doors opened. He was excited and ready to plunge into whatever the day was going to throw at him.
“Can you say hi?”
“It is polite to say hi to Uncle in the elevator.”
I looked down, discovered two big eyes staring at me in fear. “Hi.”
The young boy turned and buried his head in his mother’s skirt. His grip was tight and resolute. He needed to be safe.
I understand his reaction. There are days when I want to hide from the world. I wish I could approach everyday with abandonment and wonder but I cannot. In these moments I find myself embracing David’s request from the inside out. “Paint grace-graffiti on the fences; take in your frightened children who are running from the neighborhood bullies straight to you [God].” (Psalm 17.7) Knowing that there is a refuge can make the difference between hiding and living.