It was a beautiful spring day here in Central California, and I think I was hit with my first whiff of spring fever. As I was busily trying to clear the stack of work at least half off my desk before lunch, my gaze kept going to the world just beyond my computer monitor, where trees were full of new leaves and the grass was that fresh, new green color that becomes darker and greener as spring yields to summer.
I must have been inspired to share the spring-y-ness because I plucked up my phone and shot off a text to my daughter, Kelsey, asking if she wanted to meet me somewhere for lunch. Always up for adventure, she said, “Sure!” and we agreed to meet at a place near my work that serves an amazing Cobb Salad, which they are always happy to split for us. So, iced teas in hand, we found a table and waited for our salads to arrive. That’s when I first noticed him….
There was a guy walking through the restaurant with his family who couldn’t seem to keep his eyes off my daughter. He was trying not to be obvious….acting cool and nonchalant as they were putting their trays away on the way out, but she clearly had caught his attention. Kelsey noticed it too, and thus the dance of glances began. He’d look at her, and she’d look away. She’d look at him, and he’d blush and turn his head, until eventually both of them were all-out smiling and even making faces at each other!
OK….I should probably mention that Kelsey is in a wheelchair….and the guy was about….. three. =)
Since Kelsey’s injury in a car accident nearly two years ago, she has learned (or relearned) to do nearly everything from her sporty little lime green chair. It’s become such a part of her she sometimes forgets why people move out of the way when she’s coming toward them on the sidewalk or whisk to the side of her truck to offer help as she is pulling her chair in or out. She is growing accustomed to looks of pity (which she hates) and constant offers to open doors and push her up ramps (which she declines, but tries to tolerate to be polite.) Kelsey’s body was broken in that horrific accident….but she wasn’t. She is still smart and funny and quick-witted and generous…..she’s still Kelsey. Just shorter. And on wheels!
In general, people are polite and accepting when they’re around her, though you can see the questions they really want to ask but (almost) never do. But you know who never seem to struggle with social constraints or making eye contact? Yup….kids. The scene today, with Kelsey and little man, playing in the middle of the restaurant today was a familiar one, and it never gets old! Kids speak their minds, and once they get the first smile from her, it’s their cue to have fun, be curious and come closer.
Kids have asked her all sorts of questions about her chair, like, “What IS that?” “Where can I get one?” and “Can I try it?!” It’s not uncommon for kids to even ask more personal questions like, “What happened to you?” “Can’t you walk?” “Why?” They notice the scar left by her tracheostomy and want to know, “What is that? Does it hurt?” Kelsey is amazingly thoughtful and patient with these little people. She answers each question as simply as she feels they can understand, and the questions never seem to take long. Soon their curiosity is satisfied and they just want to play with the nice girl that smiles and plays with THEM. It’s just that easy. =)
Today, watching Kelsey and a little boy connect in a public restaurant with nothing more than glances and smiles reminded me just how simple it is to bring joy to others. The whole game lasted no longer than a minute, yet it was absolutely the most memorable minute of this day.
Several of the gospels tell of a time when people – most likely parents and grandparents – were bringing their children Jesus. They just wanted him to be near them, to touch and bless them. Wouldn’t we love to know what those kids were saying to him? I have a feeling they weren’t asking questions about the kingdom of God or seeking further explanations about his teaching. More likely it was, “Hi!” “What’s your name?” “Do you want to play?” How refreshing that must have been for Jesus….to be with children who were unguarded, with no agenda to catch him in a verbal trap or calculating their next move to disprove his claim to authority. With kids he was just the nice man who smiled and played….joyfully!
It really is just that easy…..sharing joy with those around us. Kids do it all the time….how hard can it be? So, here’s a Lenten assignment for Day 22 (because, let’s just be honest….I never post in time for there to be anything left of a day than crawling into bed and turning off the light!) Tomorrow, let’s find someone to share joy with. Smile at the person who will least expect it. (Quick! Who just came to mind and you quickly dismissed it as being a crazy idea….that’s the one!) Then spread the joy around even further and write and let me know how it went. =)