A most tender place to experience the presence of God is when a grandson is nestled in my arm, in the crook of my arm to be exact, or on my shoulder, or across my chest. I am not picky. After a day full of pretty constant activity with a little man whose energy seems endless, those closing moments of the day with him nestled close are pretty heavenly.
I was having the same kind of heaven-moments when it was my son nestled in my arm decades ago. Since life speeds along, and decades can pass in the blink of an eye, it seems like I was just holding my son there the other day, and now I am holding his son there. There is something divine about having this ball of energy come to rest right there, over or beside my heart. Carrying him in my heart when he lives seven hours away is still a gift, but having him right here by my heart…ah, so much better.
Today he made it through another of our meditation groups at midday. Yesterday he did it by playing “Mine Craft” on his little iPad. Today he walked quietly in circles around the chapel on the campus of Loyola University while our group practiced centering prayer, and only waved his hand in front of my face once. (I guess he was checking to see if I was still present or floating off into another dimension).
After lunch he helped us prepare supplies, deliver supplies, and then serve meals to over 60 people at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church. I introduced him to our group of street friends just before the meal service began, and after telling everyone this was my grandson Sam, they responded with a loud, “Hey Sam.” He was delighted to be noticed and waved to everyone. Then we asked everyone to look around to see if they could see God’s face in their neighbor’s face, and shared a brief prayer.
Sam’s role was then to hand a plastic fork wrapped in a napkin to each person as they came up for a plate of hot food. He boldly offered his gift to each person. He is obviously very social and was in no way intimidated by the fact that these were total strangers off the streets of New Orleans. He said his favorite part was taking their tickets. Seeing him serve the world so freely and naturally warmed my heart. He was a real part of the team, the body of Christ doing its thing, everyone having an equally important part, except Sam happens to be half as tall as the rest of us.
I love that he now has a direct experience to call to memory of the naturalness of serving with the whole world in his face, and knowing he is an important part of that world. I’d say he earned his place at day’s end nestled in my arm, (not that he has to earn it mind you, as this space is always open for both my son and grandson). But he finished the day where he belongs, wrapped in arms of love.
I think I will take him with me to the musical healing service at Project Lazarus tomorrow, where residents being treated for AIDS, and often addictions, will share their musical creations and songs that help them heal. Might as well dunk Sam in the full experience of serving on the streets of New Orleans. It’s a messy world here, but you get to nestle the whole world in your arms if you want to, and that somehow lets you know Who has you nestled in The Arms.
For more stories like this see Monks in the World: Seeking God in a Frantic Culture, also available as a Kindle book.