A summer with Spring: ‘To every thing there is a season’
Posted: Friday, August 14, 2009 8:01 pm
Even though the calendar said it was July, I was blessed to enjoy Spring one week last month.
And she was like a breath of fresh air.
This particular Spring is not a season but rather a bossy little brown-eyed girl of about 5 who pranced and danced her way into my heart during a church mission trip to the mountains of East Tennessee.
We weren’t even supposed to be in the same place at the same time. I had cooking duty for the week and didn’t plan to see the light of day outside the kitchen, while she was one of several children who attended a Backyard Bible Club at a rural mobile home park.
God had other plans, though. He worked out the day’s chores perfectly where my husband and I could slip away from the kitchen during the evening and join the other 20 members of the mission team at the park.
It was the icing on the cake.
But it was also a real eye-opener for someone who needed to be reminded of how much we take for granted every single day in our cozy little corner of the world.
Many of the children at the Backyard Bible Club made a lasting impression. There was one boy who revealed to another adult in our group that he slept on the floor at home for lack of a bed. There was a barefooted blonde-haired girl who seemed mature beyond her five years when she walked up, stretched out her arms for a hug and said, “It’s good to see you again.” There were children who acted like they’d been given a million dollars when they were treated to hot dogs and cupcakes.
But it was Spring who literally demanded my attention.
The child seemed to have springs in her feet as she bounced around and darted from place to place, somewhat reminding me of a little hummingbird stopping just long enough to drink in one activity before flitting off to get a taste of another.
We connected from the start and I found myself being Spring’s sidekick as she made the rounds to games and snacks, crafts and Bible story time. “Come on,” the little girl would say as she’d grab my arm to pull me here and there, usually entrusting me to hold any goodies she had acquired along the way.
She even invented her own game after she knocked me off balance as I squatted on the grass, which sent me tumbling backward as she landed flat on top of me. “Let’s do that again,” she giggled, insisting I fall backward each time she pushed me over — which ended up being several more times — and insisting we perform the new trick for everyone else.
At times, I’d feel like an oversized playmate as she’d engage me in some type of child’s play, but at other times I’d feel like her protector as she’d wrap her arms around my neck, bury her head in my shoulder and cry when something hurt her feelings.
It was Spring who also broke my heart with her reaction during one night’s Bible story.
She was sitting in my lap, fidgeting like usual, as a young preacher shared the gospel. He told the children that God knows his name and he told them God knows their names, too. Spring turned around with a look of sadness on her face and said, “He doesn’t know me.”
“Yes, He knows your name,” I quickly replied.
But she wasn’t convinced. “No, He doesn’t,” she argued, shaking her head.
“Yes, I promise, God knows your name and He loves you,” I repeated.
Again, she just shook her head and gave me the most dejected look I’d seen on her face all week as I sat there dumbfounded, hugging her tighter and struggling to reassure her.
Although I’ve not spoken of it to anyone, I’ve thought about Spring and that moment often since returning home.
I’ve recalled her surroundings in a neglected neighborhood where it seemed like there were as many stray dogs as there were children and where even I was troubled by some suspicious-acting neighbors who watched us from a distance as cars constantly came and went from their home.
I’ve wondered if she feels like she’s been forgotten and that no one cares.
I’ve wished I could tell her just once more that God loves her and knows her name.
I’ve prayed that God will keep her safe and that someday she will come to know Him in a very personal way.
Perhaps it’s because she’s named for a season or perhaps it’s because I believe God had a purpose for bringing us together, but each time Spring has come to mind, I’ve thought of Ecclesiastes 3:1 — “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”
And that includes Spring.
Staff Reporter Chris Menees may be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger 8.14.09