Make your own free website on Tripod.com

YOU MUST BECOME AS A LITTLE CHILD





This is a first-person account from a mother about her family 
as they ate dinner on Christmas Day in a small restaurant many
miles from their home.
 
Carol, the mother, relates: 
"We were the only family with children in the
restaurant. I sat Erik in a high chair and noticed
 everyone was quietly eating and talking.  
Suddenly, Erik squealed with glee and said, 'Hi there.'
He pounded his fat baby hands on the high-chair
tray. His eyes were wide with excitement, and 
his mouth was bared in a toothless grin. He wriggled and
giggled with merriment. I looked around and saw the
 source of his merriment. It was a man with a tattered 
rag of a coat; dirty, greasy and worn. His
pants were baggy with a zipper at half-mast, and his toes
poked out of would-be shoes. His shirt was dirty, and his hair was
uncombed and unwashed. His whiskers were too short to be 
called a beard, and his nose was so varicose it
looked like a road map.  We were too far from him to
 smell, but I was sure he smelled.  His hands waved 
and flapped on loose wrists. 'Hi there, baby; hi
there, big boy. I see ya, buster,' the man said to
Erik. My husband and I exchanged looks, as if to say, '
What do we do?' Erik continued to laugh and
answer, "Hi, hi there." Everyone in the restaurant
noticed and looked at us and then at the man. 
The old geezer was creating a nuisance with my
beautiful baby.

"Our meal came and the man began shouting from
 across the room, "Do ya know patty cake? Do you know peek-a-boo? 
Hey, look, he knows peek-a-boo !!"
 Nobody thought the old man was cute. He was obviously
drunk.  My husband and I were embarrassed. We ate in silence; 
all except for Erik,  who was running through
his repertoire for the admiring skid-row bum, who,
in turn, reciprocated with his cute comments. 
"We finally got through the meal  and headed for the door.
My husband went to pay the check and told me to 
meet him in the parking  lot. The old man sat poised between 
me and the door. 
"Lord, just let me out of
here before he speaks to me or Erik," I prayed.

As I drew closer to the man, I turned  my back
trying to side-step him and
avoid any air he might be breathing.  As I did, Erik
leaned over my arm, reaching with both arms in a 
baby's pick-me-up, position.  Before I could
stop him, Erik had propelled himself from my arms to the
man's.  "Suddenly a very old smelly man and a very young 
baby consummated their love relationship.
Erik, in an act of total trust, love, and
submission, laid his tiny head
upon the man's ragged shoulder.  

The man's eyes closed, and I saw tears
hover beneath his lashes.   His aged hands full of grime,
pain and hard labor - gently, so gently cradled my 
baby's bottom and stroked his back.  No two beings have 
ever loved so deeply  for so short a time.  

I stood awestruck.
"The old man rocked and cradled Erik in his arms for
a moment, and then his eyes opened and set squarely on mine.  
He said in a  firm commanding voice, "You take care of this baby.
" Somehow, I managed, 'I will,' from a throat
that contained a stone.  He pried Erik from his chest
unwillingly, as though he were in pain. I received my baby, 
and the man said, "God bless you, ma'am.
You've given me my Christmas gift." I said nothing
more than a muttered thanks.  With Erik in my arms,
I ran for the car.  My husband was wondering
why  I was crying and holding Erik so tightly, and
why I was saying, 'My God,
my God, forgive me.'
 
I had just witnessed Christ's love shown through the
innocence of a tiny child who saw no sin, who made no judgment
; a child who saw a soul, and a mother
who saw a suit of clothes.  I was a Christian 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."