As we near Little Rock on our way from Glenwood to Cabot, Jeremiah mentions a couple of possible “tour sites” for the afternoon. With absolutely no flattery intended, I tell him and Misty, “I don’t care about doing any sightseeing; I just want to hang out with you guys today.”
It’s not that I’m trying to be low maintenance and it’s not that I doubt that Little Rock, Arkansas, is just chock full of interesting artifacts. The simple truth is that all I really want to do for these few hours before my plane leaves is to visit with them.
It’s not sympathy for the fact that neither of them got much sleep last night or that Jeremiah might be slightly tired and possibly sore from our mud run the day before. I’m not opposed to sympathy and have, in fact, occasionally been caught off guard by the emotion. Once, I actually allowed myself to indulge in considering how things might look from someone else’s perspective. I try to fight it off most of the time and am generally quite successful in the effort.
My quasi-consideration is actually nothing more than pure selfishness. I would rather spend the afternoon watching my granddaughter Miah. Notice I said “watching,” not “taking care of.” I’m quite content lying on the huge corner couch in the living room and allowing Jeremiah and Misty to handle diaper changes and feeding. I’m watching.
Miah is about fifteen months old now and quite adept at motoring around. She is also cuter than a baby rabbit’s ears and has killer class dimples on each side of a ready smile. She is a bit slow to warm up to old bearded men but I’m pretty patient. I’ve been working on her ever since Friday evening when they arrived at the cabin. I have invited her to let me pick her up but have respected her polite refusals. It’s easy to lose a lot of ground by pushing for an extra few inches when it comes to dealing with small children and other colleagues.
So, I wait for my moments and take them as they come on this Sunday afternoon. On each little venture over to where I am, Miah gets a bit closer. I make funny whispering noises, clucks with my tongue, gurgling sounds, anything to deceive her into thinking I might actually be interesting. She pokes her fingers in my mouth, tries to shove a small toy into my belly and moves one of my sandals to a better place in the living room.
By the time it’s time for Jeremiah to take me to the airport, Miah has leaned over against me on the couch and let me pat her back in an almost but not quite yet hug.
It’s good when dealing with small strangers to let them adjust to you, to simply respond in a receptive way to any overtures they happen to make. At best, we can make it clear that we like them and are safe places for them to visit. Closeness that is worth seeking is also worth waiting for. I think we can see that in God’s patience with us, that he never forces us but always responds when we draw closer to him.
As for my Sunday afternoon in Arkansas, I’m pretty sure this is better than anything Little Rock has to offer.