The beautiful blond hopped toward me and her smiling face could not hide any of her emotions. She was truly overjoyed to see me.
Her long blond hair bounced as she spun and bounced back a few steps. Before I knew it, she had hooked my thigh with the shephard's crook and was pulling me toward her.
Today was "rehearsal" for the 1st Grade Christmas play. The teachers were happy to see me. They were trying to get the "angels", "wisemen", and "shepherds" in their costumes and my Sunday Friend had other ideas for the morning.
I asked my favorite 7 year old if she would put on an Angel robe.
grumpily she stomped, "no"
Then the teacher said "What if Ms. Margaret wore one too?"
Oh, good grief, why suggest something that might not even need to be suggested!!
I sweated out the response, because even though donning a first grade Angel costume and placing my thick 40 year old self in a group of nine, tiny, 7 year old angels was a complete nightmare, I would do it for my Sunday Friend.
She dropped her head in a pout and grumpily stomped "no"
I spent the morning giving my Friend 2 choices for everything she did not want to do and standing my ground. She had to choose ONE. "NO" was not an option.
"Do you want to go in this room and color with these kids, or do you want to go in the other room and sing?"
"NO" plops in the floor
I lowered my voice and put on my expressionless, "I have no concern" face. I took her hand and in one move picked her off the floor and led her to the fish tank.
"I did not ask. Now you find 5 fish and I will choose a room, if you don't"
This confused her. She loves looking at the fish, so how was this a punishment? We named the fish, created a story and started giggling together.......while I led her into the rehearsal room.
We ended up in the corner, watching the other children. 15 minutes of her smiling at me, hugging me, wrapping her arm around my neck, and filling my heart. She listened and watched the children, saying only two things the whole time:
1. As she ran her little finger through my hair and found that it was a '2 clip day' for my curls, she said "my mommy can brush hair. You want her to brush yours?"
2. Can I see baby Jesus? I need to see his eyes.
The first comment filled my heart.
The second comment broke it.
I need to look at people's eyes when I talk to them, when I am unsure about myself, when I need to feel approval. I would give anything to look into Jesus's eyes as I beg him for help with my struggles, ask for forgiveness, or need to feel loved.
"yes, when all the kids are done, we can go over and look at Baby Jesus."
Her fingers clasped together, her eyes curved and her teeth clinched together as her mouth widened with an excited smile.
She kept her eyes on the baby doll the rest of the time.
The kids left the room and the teachers followed behind. I explained that my Friend and I were staying behind and the last teacher turned to look at us.
"Put Baby Jesus in the closet when you are done."
My Friend looked at me with worry. I whispered that Baby Jesus would wait right here in the room until next Sunday. No closet.
I would have to get her out of the room before stuffing the manger and baby in the closet with the costumes.
As the noise moved away from our room, I felt swallowed into a calm.
"Where are Baby Jesus's clothes?"
"He doesnt have any, that is why they wrap him in blankets."
We unwrapped the doll and looked at the hands, counted the fingers and smiled at each other with giggles.
We unwrapped the doll's feet and counted the toes.
"His feet are cold. Give him your scarf."
We wrapped Baby Jesus in my blue knit scarf.
"He feels better."
She grabbed the baby up in her arms, flopped herself into my lap, grabbed my right hand and placed it on her shoulder, grabbed my left hand and placed it under the baby's head, and then wrapped her right arm around my neck. We sat, wrapped up in each other, holding the baby doll.
She whispered "I like his eyes."
"yes, they are nice."
She looked at my eyes "I love Him."
Well.......shoot! My eyes welled up with tears and they overflowed to my cheeks. I smiled at my sweet friend.
"Yes, and he loves you!"
She shoved the baby toward my chest "Do you love him?"
Fighting back the ugly cry, my voice squeaked, "yes......yes, I do."
After my Friend left with her dad, I took back my scarf and wrapped the doll in all the cloths, folded it up with the manger and stuffed it under the angel costumes.
Then my dripping heart, eyes and nose ventured out of the quiet, warm and perfect room and into the loud screaming bustle of the hallway.