September 28, 2012

The Christmas Gift

And A Child Shall Lead Them

This story was told to me a while ago, and I think that it is worth a retelling. It has been around the internet for a while, but I decided that with a few modifications, the message behind the words will come through. 

This story touched me deeply, and I hope you all enjoy it. I will warn you though, you may need some tissues before we get to the end, but you'll be glad you came along for the ride ...

A Hug From A Child

It was a chilly night in December, and we were the only family with children in the entire restaurant. I sat my son in a high chair, and noticed that everyone was quietly sitting and talking. Suddenly, my boy squealed rather loudly. He pounded his fat little baby hands on the high chair tray with glee and loudly said "Hi!". His eyes were crinkled up in laughter and his mouth was bared in a toothless grin as he wriggled and giggled with merriment.

I looked around and saw the source of his amusement. Across the room from us, smiling and wiggling his fingers at the boy, sat an old man in a faded sweat jacket.
His jacket's zipper appeared to be broken, exposing a threadbare shirt. His pants were baggy, his toes were peeking out of would-be shoes and his hair was uncombed and unwashed. His whiskers were too short to be called a beard and his nose was so red and varicose it looked like a rose-colored road map. We were too far away from him to tell for sure, but I was pretty sure he smelled.

His hands waved and flapped on loose wrists, and he grinned with a less than full set of teeth. "Hi there, baby," the man said to my little boy. "Hi there, big boy. I see ya, buster!"

My husband and I exchanged looks, trying to figure out what to do, while our son continued to grin, laugh and say "Hi" in his charming infant way.

By now, everyone in the restaurant noticed and they all seemed to look first at us, and then at the scruffy man. The old guy was creating a nuisance with my beautiful child, and I could tell it was beginning to irritate the other diners. 

At last our meal came, and the man began calling from across the room, "Do ya do patty cake? Do you know peek-a-boo? ... Hey, look!  He knows peek- a-boo!"  Nobody thought the old man was cute, and my husband and I were embarrassed. 

We ate in silence; all except for the baby. The little guy was running through his entire charming repertoire for the admiring old bum, who in turn continued to reciprocate with his too-loud comments. 

We finally got through our meal, and got ready to head for the door. My husband went to pay the check, and told me to meet him in the parking lot. The old man sat at his single table, poised between me and the front door. "Lord, please, just let me out of here before he speaks to me," I prayed. As I drew closer to the man, I turned sideways, trying to avoid any air he might be breathing. 

Just as I thought we would reach the haven of the doorway and safety, my son leaned away from me, reaching out with both arms, in that almost instinctual baby-sign for 'pick me up'. Suddenly I tripped and the baby pushed away from me, propelling himself straight into the open and waiting arms of the man. 

Suddenly a very old man and a very young baby were embracing. The boy, in an act of total trust, love and submission, laid his tiny head on the man's ragged shoulder. The man's eyes closed, and as chubby arms wrapped around his neck, I saw tears hover beneath his old lashes. His wrinkled and aged hands, full of grime, pain, and a lifetime of hard labor, cradled my baby, and patted his back. 

No two beings have ever shared such pure love so deeply, for so short a time. 

I stood awestruck. The old man rocked and hugged the little boy for just a moment, then his eyes opened. He looked me straight in the eye and said in a firm commanding voice, "You take good care of this precious baby." Somehow I managed, 'I will,' from a throat that now contained a stone. He pried my son from his chest, lovingly and longingly, as though he were in great pain. 

I took the baby from him, and the old man said, "God bless you, ma'am. You've given me my Christmas gift." I said nothing more than a muttered thanks. With my son in my arms and tears streaming down my face, I ran for the car.
My husband was wondering why I was crying and holding the baby so tightly, and why I was saying, 'My God, my God, please forgive me.

I had just witnessed Christ's love, shown through the innocence of a tiny child who saw no sin and made no judgment; a child who saw a soul, with a mother who saw a suit of clothes. I was a Christian mother who was blind, holding a child who was not. I felt it was God asking, "Are you willing to share your son for a moment?" when He shared His for all eternity. 

The ragged old man, unwittingly, had reminded me, 'To enter the Kingdom of God , we must become as little children.'

Let Love Guide You

As you go through your days, try not to be blinded by what you see. Everyone you meet has a story, and inside, they are all worthy of respect, compassion and for those who truly profess to believe in the teachings of a carpenter from Galilee, love.

A story told with blurred eyes and joy,

From Grandpa's Heart ...

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