“Two boys?” The lady in line behind me asks.
I smile and nod as I simultaneously grit my teeth at the price of yet another load of groceries.
“You’re lucky,” she says.
I know, deep down, she’s right. But in that moment I want to tell her that although they look adorable sitting side by side in the grocery cart, bundled in their knit sweaters and hats, the biting and hitting will ensue the second we reach the car. I want to tell her that the sweet smiles she is gazing upon were nowhere to be seen that morning at home. What erupted from their mouths instead were screams and cries as they fought over toys and were sent to time outs. I wanted to tell her that after I lug the 6 bags of food up my home’s never ending front staircase I will rush to make lunch, most of which will be thrown on the floor by my toddler. I will then spend the next half hour cleaning up the mess. My preschooler will wake up from his nap whining for a TV show. He’ll sob uncontrollably when I decline, reminding him that he has been banned from my bedroom because of the eyeliner he used like a crayon on my dresser drawers (and his face) earlier that day. At this point his brother will have woken up. I’ll race to finish supper, gather everyone to the table and ignore the eyes they’re giving to the fish cakes I’ve spent the last hour preparing. Most of which will be thrown on the floor by my toddler, and I’ll spend the next half hour cleaning up the mess.
But I don’t say all of this. Instead, I pause, take a breath, and say “I am lucky. They’re pretty special.”
Her words pierced through my tiredness and ingratitude. They carved a pathway to truth – that the heart of heaven, the heart of God, exists right here before my very eyes. An imperfect reflection, yes, but a powerful glimpse nonetheless. The kingdom of heaven belongs to these two boys, and anyone who is like them (Matthew 19:14).
How do I maintain this spirit of thankfulness, this understanding of the Kingdom trotting around my feet, climbing over my legs, clinging to my arms?
For a start, I do what Jesus did. He said “Let the little children come to me”. Even though I crave space – how I long to escape sometimes! But I must will myself to stay close to my kids. Pulling them towards me, or drawing near to them, is a Holy act. They are two of my best teachers in the matters of God’s heart. They are the ones that shine Heaven’s light, helping the eyes of my soul see. They model for me the “rhythms of kingdom living”, which author and pastor Mark Buchanan describes as never hurried and never worried. I want more of that in my life.
I am lucky because I do not need to go very far to taste and see that God is good. One belly-laugh, one warm embrace, one song sung together are enough. And these things are bountiful in my life. That’s a gift.
Jesus sees Heaven in the little ones. And He will help us see it, too. With his hand on our lives we will become more aware.
So I pray the prayer A.W. Tozer writes: “O God, quicken to life every power within me, that I may lay hold on eternal things…Make heaven more real to me than any earthly thing has ever been.”
My boys are an avenue through which this prayer can be answered. In and through them, all around them, Heaven is being made real to me.
And with this I wonder, how is this mother reflecting Heaven back to them?