Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Thanksgiving Day 6: The Keys to the Kingdom

Some days I think that if I had my druthers, all the grown-up furniture would be tossed out of the TH and miniature couches and chairs and tables would be brought in. And we would serve mini cinnis, peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches, and smarties cookies, and lots of pink tea and apple-juice milk. And we would read stories and play pick-up sticks and make up silly songs and count monkeys spilling out of the barrel to play with us ...

Alli, above, and Nev, below, are two of the many TH kids whose very presence helps make Nilgiris the joyful place it is. Alli told her mommy the day this picture was taken, "We have got to go visit my tea house"; and she was the first person who got to use the china tea service that looked like it had been designed and painted with her as the artist's muse. The stars in her eyes when she lifted the lid of the sugar bowl and served herself made me delighted to see that this fairytale child was already taking after her wonderful mother and grandmother in being able to spot beauty and make a simple moment into a special occasion!

Her brother worked for me a few times before their family moved away. After months of waiting and keeping track of his height on the wall at home and desperately trying to get taller so that he could see over the kitchen sink and thus be eligible for employment, finally he qualified and promptly served a table of his friends and their mother with the aplomb of a seasoned waiter, an aplomb far past his years - 6 in all! Alli, too, assures me that she also will be working for me when she grows "big enough."
Nev, on the other hand, sees miniature china cups only as a useful accessory to the latest game his fertile imagination dreams up. Last time he visited, he spooned jelly beans into cups and we were to tell him what flavour tea we were drinking! After that, the cups turned into a convenient receptacle for marbles ... Nev has a secret jelly bean stash at the TH and each time he comes in he solemnly checks to make sure that the goods are still where they should be. Then he eats them and refills ...

I mentioned within earshot of Nev that I would love to decorate the TH with tumbleweeds for Thanksgiving; shortly thereafter, he spotted one across the road. "Wait right here," he instructed. "I'll get it for you."And off he trotted, retrieving this beautiful one you can see in the picture.

No wonder Jesus wanted to play with the little children and said that of such is the kingdom of heaven! After days of listening to people question His motives, demand that He justify His actions, bicker about fiscal responsibility or who was the greatest while quite forgetting in whose presence they argued -- just simply not getting the mysterious workings of faith -- it would have been fantastic to be able to hang out with the children, who did get it, who didn't find a box and then try to make Him small enough to fit into it. After all, the children knew He was bigger than any old box although if they asked Him to He would crawl into that box with them and play fort or train or house or shop. And they knew that if they played "jump" with Him they could say, "Here I am! Catch me -- I'm going to jump to You!" and He would put out His arms and catch them and never let them fall!

I'm grateful today that kids bring a bit of the kingdom of heaven into the teahouse. To be able to witness the beauty of the world all around us through the eyes of a child is a gift that we should treasure like an iridescent bubble blown in the sunlight, dancing just out of our reach.

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