My Sacramento-based job requires that I do a lot of traveling to surrounding cities to copy legal documents. On this particular day I had driven all the way to Oakdale (Oakdale? Where’s that? Most Sacramentans would say) only to discover that there had been miscommunication and that the documents were not yet available.
What a wasted trip, I thought. Facing a long, hot drive back to Sacramento, I spotted a Rite-Aid and decided that I could at least run inside and pick up a few items before heading back out on the road.
While standing in line to pay, my attention was drawn to the ice cream counter, where three children — a little girl and two smaller boys — were happily voicing their gratitude for cones that their grandmother was buying for them. One by one, as each reached up to receive his or her carefully chosen flavor, a heartfelt thank you was offered up to the clerk.
Then they turned their attention to the ice cream: “Oooh, it’s good!” And to each other’s: “Can I taste yours?” They each learned the name of the other’s flavor as they freely shared their own. The little girl bent her knees to look her smaller brother in the eye as she carefully licked off a tiny taste of his huge mound of chocolate. “Ooh, that’s good, too!” she affirmed. Back and forth, the children delightedly repeated this ritual of sharing and appreciating one another’s selection as they waited for their grandmother to go through the line.
Having asked and received permission once again to taste his sister’s rainbow flavor, one of the little boys remarked with satisfaction, “It’s dewicious!” At that, I turned and smiled, one grandmother to another, at the woman who looked only slightly wearied by the responsibility of these three little ones in her charge. She smiled back as she quietly repeated, “It’s dewicious.”
I felt like Moses, standing on holy ground, in hushed silence and wonder, before the burning bush. These children were, to me, so out of the ordinary as to capture my full attention. God spoke through that burning bush, and God surely seemed to be speaking to me through these little ones, who were now gently touching each other’s hand or arm as they spoke to one another.
Suddenly it was my turn to pay and to briskly leave the store and face the traffic and the heat. The long drive back gave me time to relish the memory of the encounter in Rite-Aid, and to continue to listen and learn from it. This is some of what I have concluded:
In the light of the astonishing news that God Himself has stooped to our rescue, shedding His own blood for our sake, many of us struggle with the question: “How shall we then live?” His touching demonstration through these pure-hearted children served to clarify for me what must be His heart’s desire for us — young or old.
Show appreciation and delight.
Ask permission of one another.
Affirm each other’s choices.
Stoop to each other’s eye level.
Share your ice cream.