I’m all for celebrations: weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, showers… any event that calls for cake. But nestled in between those red-letter days are the fragments of life that surprise you with a moment you never want to forget. Here’s one of mine:
Lauren, my middle child, has a wonderfully active and creative mind. A dozen years ago, during the summer of her thirteenth year, she vigilantly fought mosquitoes and was responsible for protecting my family from the West Nile virus. She sprayed insect repellent on us and never went out after dark without wearing thick socks and pants.
She turned every creative writing assignment, regardless of the topic given, into a story of romance, and decided to devote her time to writing a novel. At least it made her forget about the mosquitoes.
Later that fall, she gave us daily reports of the D.C. sniper’s activities. We were all very thankful when the killers were caught, and Lauren’s thoughts turned closer to home.
She was concerned that her orthodontist would neglect to remove her braces after her teeth were straightened. Dr. Maldonado assured her that she would not be forgotten. Satisfied with his response, she used the ride home to address her next concern, eternity.
“Isn’t it weird to think about eternity, Mom? It’s so hard to imagine. What am I going to do with all of that time?” Unknowingly, she opened up the door to one of my favorite memories. As I continued the drive forward, my mind raced back to the first decade of my life.
Remember the first decade? It’s the decade when birthdays seem as far apart as the east is from the west. The decade which transforms backyard ditches into moats, empty lots into Yankee Stadium, and trees into apartment complexes to house the neighborhood children. And it was during this first decade of my life that I made the lifelong connection between the yellow-flowered curtains covering my bedroom windows and eternity.
My sister, Kay, and I were settled in our beds when we heard my Dad call out his ritualistic bedtime questions. “Did you brush your teeth?” Without waiting for an answer, he continued, “Did you say your prayers?”
The second question directed my train of thought past the act of praying to my image of God. It continued on that track to thoughts of Heaven, and finally came to a stop as I pondered eternity. Even then, as a child, I knew eternity never stopped. Without warning, I found myself trying to imagine the concept of forever, a time when there would be no time, an endless day with no night.
These thoughts of Heaven and eternity continued to roll over and over in my young mind, each producing a new layer of fear, increased confusion, and an inability to grasp these eternal concepts. I stared at my yellow-flowered curtains as I began to sink deeper and deeper into my thoughts. When I could no longer bear their weight, I began to cry. My cries did not go unnoticed for soon my father was at my side questioning my tears.
“I was thinking about Heaven,” I managed to say.
“Why would that make you cry?” Daddy asked.
My young mind faltered as I attempted to attach words to my insecurities. Unable to do so, I chose to convey my abstract ideas with the nearest concrete item. “It’s just that… well…” I stuttered, all the while staring at the curtains my mother had sewn especially for my room. “When I go to Heaven, I’m gonna miss these curtains.” Despite their inadequacy to reveal my true feelings, the words released my inner struggle. The battle to understand was no longer mine, but my father’s. Free of that burden, I collapsed into his arms.
Try as I might, I cannot remember exactly what he said. However, I do remember the comfort that his words produced. As he spoke, fear loosened its grip on my mind and peace pushed out the confusion that had clouded my thoughts. I settled down in my bed, assured that my God had control over the things that were too lofty for me to understand.
Many, many nights have passed since the yellow-flowered curtain incident. But, occasionally, when I think of Heaven, I can see them in the corner of my mind. And as I look at them, I’m reminded of a young child’s questions of eternity and a loving father’s comfort.
Now, when questions of my future flit around in my mind, it’s my Heavenly Father Who rushes to my side and settles my soul. I’m convinced that even my wild imagination (or Lauren’s) cannot stretch to include His plans for eternity. But I wouldn’t at all be surprised if somewhere in Heaven, there are yellow-flowered bedroom curtains.
Oh, and Lauren, I agree with you. It would be nice if God puts your mansion inside of mine so that we can spend lots of time together.
Ronny may be reached at email@example.com.