Every year at my elementary school we had a spaghetti supper, followed by games set up at booths in the gymnasium. All of us kids had a ball. It was a fundraiser, which I didn’t really even think about. I just wanted to buy tickets to do the contests in order to win trinkets. What a magical celebration.
People would bring things from home to donate as prizes or we could win pencils, erasers, or key chains with the school logo on them. In my opinion, key chains were only meant to be decorations. I did not have keys. My parents had keys.
The duck-floating game caught my eye. On the top shelf were the best prizes. I saw the picture of Jesus, the one in Gethsemane where he looked to God for help, but God wouldn’t give it because he wanted to help us through his Son, so he couldn’t. I wanted that picture. I knew Jesus was alive still, and I wanted to be near him. I liked him a lot. He cared. I could tell by his face. He also hurt. God liked him, too. I played the game, and I won the picture.
When we all left the spaghetti supper, my paper sack of treasures in hand, I tripped off the sidewalk just outside the cafeteria and fell into the grass in the dark. My sack landed on the edge of the concrete. I heard glass crack, and I knew it was my picture that I had won from the top shelf. I looked when we got into the car, and the crack went three ways. I cried and nobody knew why.
The picture disappeared somewhere later. I guessed that they didn’t fix glass during that time. The broken glass meant the picture was ruined. I had no idea where I would put it. I just wanted to be near whatever it all meant.
God was like cool green fescue, and he could paint with colors like blue and yellow. He loved the sounds of meadowlarks in spring and fall, rolling thunder, rain, and laughter. He knew the sounds of birds’ wings that fly over in flocks and the spicy tastes of persimmons. He liked sparrows and pumpkins, our feelings and the sun, baseball and his son. He was crazy about his son; they talked all the time. God sent him to tell us about all these things that he liked, and we killed him for it. I did not understand that part yet. I do now. I’m still sad about it. I’m glad too, but in a grownup way.
We all know somewhere in our hearts that life as we know it is not like it was made to be—that there is more to life than the reality we see. Jesus came into this tragedy of survival and brokenness to reconcile our hearts and life to a great God who has greatness for us. He gives us reconciliation, redemption, re-creation, restoration, and repair here on earth and final repair later on. He makes us fully alive to ourselves, to him, and to others again.
When we get older, we often forget to believe. We get rid of the heart, subordinating ourselves to survival, rather than living fully because of our trust of God. I did, anyway. I pushed the truth of me, God, and others away and forgot as reality overwhelmed the truth. Reality overcomes the truth until the truth overwhelms us again.
There is no way back to childhood, and no one created by God would wish truly to become a child again. There is no way back, but there is a way through to see who we are created to be, so we can do what we are created to do.
We have to remember where we once were, the time when we used to trust, the time that we once believed in possibility and wonder. When we knew that things turn out well, and love is a certainty. Putting that story back together in our present lives, allows us to rekindle the truth of us that is more than the reality we see. We “re-member,” or rejoin, who we were created to become. We live beyond survival in a world that can rob us of a living God who seeks to “re-member” us.