I had one objective that Sunday afternoon – travel two towns over and see my granddaughter. She’d only arrived two weeks earlier and already I contorted myself around her little finger.
Once inside my son had me sit on the sofa and promptly handed me the sleeping cherub. I’d given my son enough notice he had his plans. While his wife slept and I sat as still as I could be – unwilling to wake the sleeper in my arms – he tackled household paperwork.
I looked at my granddaughter. Utterly content was I in observation. A tiny life. Child of my child. I didn’t ponder that mystery of life. I enjoyed life.
Occasionally she’d move. A yawn. A stretch. A deep breath. Every move a wonder. And then …
Her tiny fingers found my finger and she – could she sense my love? – clasped on. I whispered to my son, “Look at this.” He picturized the moment. Cherished record.
No longer do I recall who stirred first; me, my child, or my child’s child. But away went that vaporous moment removed to memory and picture.
“Can’t believe, she slept two hours for you.” My son sounded delighted.
Two hours? I held her for two hours? As I departed I thought, I don’t remember holding any of my children like this for two hours. What had just happened?
The experience intrigued me. Since this wasn’t the first time I’d held a baby (not even the first time holding my granddaughter), what brought about the contentment to sit and look so long?
As I considered this, my love for and delight in my granddaughter welled to overflowing. How was it possible to love such a tiny person so deeply this quickly?
I remembered the oft-repeated grandparent-ism: if I knew grandchildren were this much fun, I’d have had them first. That’s a more positive way of saying, “Grandkids are God’s reward for not killing our children.” The longer I considered this I felt this answer was incomplete.
A few days later I said it. “Son, enjoy her while she’s little. She’ll only be a baby once.” Walla, the elusive companion to that “-ism.” The reason I could hold my granddaughter I knew experientially how quickly children grow up. How else could this boy, who interrupted an outing to the beach with his arrival in what seems like just a little while ago, now be the father of my grandchild?
So, now, I cherish time with my grandchildren. None of the five are two weeks old any longer. They now span the ages of two to eight. They change so quickly. Me not so quickly. But change is relentless. How I desire to share life with my grandchildren.
Isn’t that what God desires for me also? He knows how fleeting my life is. The Bible describes this in terms of wild flowers, grass, and wisps of mist. Nothing very enduring.
Instead of a God who demands my time to prove my devotion to him, could it be that God wants to enjoy me and our time together? For much of my life I’ve responded to God out of a sense of duty. To be a good Christian meant I had to read the Bible, pray, memorize verses, go to church, and witness to others.
How could I have missed the reality of the love connection? What ever the reason I began in my grandfatherhood to see the relational power of love. What pleases me as much as spending time with my grandchildren is how much they look forward to being with me.
My three local grandchildren know whose turn it is for the “Grandpa date”. (At the time I’m writing this it is my grandson’s turn.) On the day it’s their turn the coat and shoes are on – the two-year old doesn’t like wearing shoes – as they stand vigil at the window.
The last time I felt that way about meeting with God was a month ago as I drove to a workshop entitled: Art and Prayer. Maybe it was because I interrupted my routine and took the time, but that’s a partial explanation. On a deeper level I feel I am responding to God in a similar way my granddaughter responded to me when I held her at two weeks old.
And I am changing, growing in my sensitivity toward God.
I look forward to more times with God, resting, enjoying, being, maybe even for…
… two whole hours.