Sunday afternoon, I decided I needed to be free of all distractions. Over the last month or two, I had fallen behind in my work. With my cross-country move, starting my new job, and completing my novel, I had taken time away from writing my blog, my poetry, my journal, and my short stories. I wanted to get back to writing again on a set schedule so no aspect of my work would suffer. In order to do that, I needed to leave the house. Facebook, laundry, cell phone, and TV are just a few of the culprits that can distract me from getting my creative endeavors accomplished. With this thought in mind, I decided to head up to the local Wendy’s restaurant. I was determined that I was going to sit in the restaurant for at least two hours, sipping cups of iced tea and writing several pages in my notebook.
About an hour into my work, I was making good progress. I felt focused and thought I could work through the rest of the afternoon. I had written two poems and had started scribbling ideas down for a new short story. For a brief moment, I became stuck on a particular aspect of my narrative and glanced up and away from my notebook. I had meant to look away for just a moment…but it was a moment that broke my concentration and suddenly I could no longer focus.
My mind had wandered over to the next table about ten feet away from me where a family of four had sat down to enjoy their dinner. The parents were sitting with their backs to me, so I could not see their faces. The two beautiful young children, however, were facing towards so I could see them two clearly. The girl was around the age of seven with bright eyes and straight, long blond hair that was pulled by blue ribbons away from her smooth, round face. The little boy appeared to be much younger as he sat forward on the bench of the booth. His small feet did not even reach the floor. Like a typical 5-year-old, he swung and kicked his legs joyfully as he ate his meal. Both children were incredibly well-behaved and radiated a glow of good health and the happy inner light of youthful joy.
I smiled at the children before turning my attention back to my notebook. I was reading over the ideas I had scribbled down when I suddenly heard a small sound. I glanced up and realized the little boy was now speaking in an enthusiastic, sweet voice that bridged the distance between our two tables. I tried not to listen. I didn’t want to eavesdrop but his words kept getting my attention.
“Mom,” the child said, “remember what I told you was going to happen in 45 years?”
Though I could not see the mother’s face, I noticed that her body suddenly grew tense. Her movements seemed to be on pause for a moment as she stared at her son. I didn’t hear her response because she spoke in a soft whisper. I could only hear a few mumbled sounds but her voice was too low to make out any words.
“Mom,” the child said again, “I told you before what was going to happen in 45 years.”
Now, the mother cleared her throat and answered, “In 45 years, I’m going to be 79. And you are going to be 50….”
But the young child was not satisfied with this answer. “No, Momma,” he protested. “Don’t you remember what I told you? When you and I die…”
Now the mother began to frantically whisper again. The tone of her voice was kind, but her body continued to be tense as she spoke quickly to the boy. She tried to explain to the child how they would both age over the coming years.
“No, momma,” the boy interrupted her. Though he spoke in a steady voice, the volume had increased as he tried to get his mother to understand. “Remember, I told you when we are going to die.” Then the child must have suddenly become aware his mother’s agitation. He said, “It’s okay, Momma. You don’t have to be afraid.”
Again, the mother spoke but her voice was too soft to hear. Her hands began to idly pick at the food still lying on the paper wrappers in front of her.
The child responded, “Momma, you don’t have to be afraid. I won’t let you be afraid. It’s okay, Momma. Heaven is wonderful!”
Again, the woman stiffened as she listened to her small son. “Remember, Momma. Heaven is beautiful! Do you remember what’s going to happen to us when we get to heaven?” The child then began to laugh. “Don’t you remember, Momma, what it’s like in heaven? I remember, Momma….”
Both the young girl and the father said nothing as the child talked. The family now sat in stunned silence as the child talk about the glories of heaven. He spoke about the love of God and a complete absence of fear and worry.
Finally, the family stood up from the table and began to walk to the exit. Halfway across the restaurant to the door, the mother suddenly stopped, looked down at her son, and then engulfed her tiny prophet in a deep, loving embrace. Slowly, they pulled apart and the mother gripped her son’s hand as they walked out of the door together.
I sat still for a moment as I contemplated what I just heard. The phrase “A child will lead them” entered my mind. Children are born into this world knowing all about heaven, the universe, past lives, and healing secrets. Children can see angels and departed loved ones, and they understand God’s mercy in ways adults can no longer even contemplate. It’s so sad that we lose the ability to truly know God and witness the glory of his universe as we grow older. We lose the fascination of childhood. We lose the possibility of the impossible. We give up as we grow up. We let go of faith, and hope, and miracles just so we can exist in a world that is fleeting at best.
I want to know the glory of God and the universe as I did when I was a child. I want to be that five-year-old again who has no doubt about heaven and believes in all possibilities. I want to be that child who saw angels and felt the presence of God in all things. I thought about the bible verse from Matthew 18: 2-4:
“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Now, I smiled and put away my notebooks. It suddenly didn’t matter how much work I could accomplish. All my anxieties had disappeared. I just had the sweetest of distractions and didn’t want to let go yet of the joy and happiness I was suddenly feeling. I got up from my table and walked up to the front counter. I bought myself chocolate ice cream which I hadn’t eaten in years. I went back to my table and sat down slowly. I tilted back in my seat and put my feet up on the opposite chair. I sat for several minutes, enjoying the sweet taste of the ice cream as I watched the pink and orange glow of the sunset. Life is not a distraction. Yes, indeed, there is nothing to fear. Heaven is wonderful!