Sunday, January 8, 2012


        If only we could be more “childlike” in our adult lives. Surely, we would find inspiration in each and every day.


        I was lounging on a grassy hill, soaking up the sunshine flooding through the breaks in the trees. Eyes shut, fluttering slightly against the occasional breeze; allowing only sound, smell, and feeling to affect me amid a calm blackness. Birds chirping. Leaves rustling. Families running and playing. Grills smoking. Pollen floating aimlessly on the coastal air. All was well within my soul (as an old hymnal might describe it).

         I opened my eyes to find a small child playing with a stick a few yards beyond my reach. He giggled as he knocked apart puffy dandelions, chasing the flyaway seedlings through the air. He danced around merrily, waving his stick to an imaginary beat. I couldn’t help but smile to myself, when suddenly he stopped abruptly and fell to his knees. I perched up on my fingertips, ready to run to his rescue, when I realized he wasn’t hurt, but rather was examining something in the grass. I squinted to see what he was investigating, but couldn’t quite make it out. Something furry? Small, but large enough to protrude from the uncut grass.

        It was then that his mother spotted him and came running to his side. She yanked him angrily from the grass and swatted him, exclaiming that he was, “never to touch dead animals ever again!” He wriggled from her grasp and fell to the ground weeping. To my astonishment, his reaction was not in reply to her hand, but rather to being pulled away from the lifeless creature lying beside him. Against her demand, he cradled the bird in his tiny hands and held it for his mother to see. Sunlight illuminated his cheeks; a prism of tears, begging for her mercy and understanding.  His eyes, the color of melting chocolate, stared up at her - willing her to see the helplessness, to recognize the sadness that was so evident to him.

        “Is he sleeping like grandpa?” asked the little boy. She softened and knelt beside him, placing her hand on his back. She smiled warmly and replied, “Yes, baby, he’s sleeping.”

“How come he’s on the ground, then? Why is he not in a big box like grandpa?”
            She did her best to explain the difference between a person passing and an animal. Unconvinced, the child demanded that they give the bird (whom he had now named ‘Fred’) a proper funeral. Recognizing the seriousness of the situation to her kindergartener, she agreed to give Fred a sincere burial (of course, only if they followed the necessary sanitation rules). She produced an empty grocery bag from their picnic and gathered Fred’s tiny body. After dousing her son’s hands with sanitizer, they packed up the rest of their belonging and headed to the car, plastic bag in tow. The boy held the bag ever so gently, as not to disturb Fred’s ‘sleeping,’ as his mother buckled him up for the trip home.
           As they drove away, I noticed the boy’s stick left behind. Abandoned for a greater cause, it lay resting in the grass ahead of me. I picked it up and headed in my own direction of home, observing the other families along the way. Grills smoking. Pollen floating aimlessly on the coastal air. Birds chirping. I felt a slight pang in my heart, beveled by an outline of hope knowing that good is still around me. We often lose sight of this deeper connection to the world and sometimes it takes the heart of a child, a vessel of innocence, to remind us of this goodness and love.

 Open your hearts and minds as you travel the road of life - you never know what sticks you might pick up along the way.