“Papa, Papa, wanna build blocks with me?” begged my three and a half year-old granddaughter, Addi.
“Sure,” I said and I meant it. I don’t get to see her enough, or her brother, Linc, or her mom and dad. I’d stand on my head in a bowl full of worms if she asked (Addi thinks I enjoy eating worms. Not sure where she got that idea). So, I ignored my knees and sat cross legged on the floor building blocks with her.
“Papa, Papa, wanna color with me?” was her next request.
“Absolutely!” I said, though I wasn’t good at coloring when I was a kid. All that staying in the lines stuff. Plus I was always in a hurry. Good coloring book art cannot be rushed.
“Papa, read me a story.”
“Papa, can I sit next to you?”
“Papa, wanna taste of my oatmeal?”
“Papa, let’s go on a hike.”
With each request there was a good reason to say, “Maybe later” or some other dodge us adults use to avoid being child-like again.
Instead I dropped everything I was doing or thinking and dove into her world. How natural and good it felt to immerse myself in the simple worlds of my grandchildren. I was born for this, I thought.
Some might say I was wasting valuable time. With the world needing saving from global warming, Republicans, financial ruin, Democrats, and all nature of other evils, how could I sit and build blocks that 15 month-old Linc was bound to come along and topple? All the while laughing in his deep baby voice, “huh, huh, huh, huh.”
Later Addi asked, “Papa, draw a heart for me. I don’t know how.”
We sat wrinkled elbow to tiny elbow at the kitchen table and I drew hearts and she colored them in. As I watched her color, I marveled at how much she wanted to be with me. And how much I wanted to be with her. There next to her I experienced that strange “peace that passes all understanding” and that defies description.
Then God whispered, “See how much you love being with your grandkids? That’s how much I enjoy being with you.”*
I looked down at my heart Addi was coloring and wondered at the timing of God’s whisper. There was my heart laid out for God and everybody to see, poorly rendered, imperfect, but mine and real. Being colored in by someone I would die for. I am speaking metaphorically here, and not. And God chose that moment to speak. To remind me how much God desires my measly, distracted, infinitesimal presence. Desires me and enjoys me.
The rest of the week I asked God:
“Abba, wanna go mountain biking with me?”
Abba, wanna read with me.”
“Abba, would you like a taste of my omelet?”
“Abba, let’s hang out.”
“Abba, sit here next to me. I’m afraid.”
And to my surprise God dropped everything he was doing and joined me, pointing out magpies along the trail while biking, directing my eyes to a deer antler shed while hunting, drawing close and assuaging my fear and worry. Just Being there.
I shared this story with a friend and he said, “Yeah, someone once told me I needed to ‘waste time with God.’”
Was that what I was doing? I wondered. If so, it sure felt good. I think I’m going to do more of it.
*I hope you know I didn’t actually hear words and I quaver at putting words in God’s mouth. But it was a strong feeling and since Jesus’ name in Hebrew means “God-with-us” I think I’m on safe ground here.