Monday, March 29, 2010

Jesus and Fire Dog

Mister has his own room, but prefers “chumber” parties with the sisters. In his room there is a custom-Papi-made Fire Truck bed, complete with working lights and a steering wheel. Papi delivered the Red and White behemoth the week Peanut was born. It had to be assembled in Mister’s room and faces the door (which no longer opens all the way) posed and ready for duty. For weeks Mister would fall asleep with outstretched arms, hands tightly gripping the steering wheel. The fire bed was coveted real estate until Peanut moved upstairs. Suddenly the party was next door and Mister was not to be left out. And so he claimed the top bunk and the “chumber” party became standard sleeping arrangement. Except for naptime. When the big kids require naps, all must sleep separately, lest the otherwise napping babe stand at the rail to smile and trade a volley of dinosaur noises with the giggling preschoolers. Sis appreciates a little time alone in the guest room. It helps that the spare room is full of all the big kid’s choke-y toys. Sometimes it sounds as if she is playing dollhouse in her sleep. Or dreaming of dressing paper dolls. Every once in a while I hear the pitter-patter of sleepwalking.

But the mention of naptime brings tears and protest from the son. Immediately his saddest-thing-I-ever-heard face hijacks his beautiful smile and a steady string of whiney notes dribble from his lip. Paramount is his protest against being alone. “I don’t like to be by myself. I will be so sad. I will be so lonely.” I tuck him in anyway and remind him that God is always with him.

Sniffles and growth spurs have precipitated more frequent napping lately and Mister has gotten wise to my rebuttal. On Thursday, as I leaned in to kiss his pouting lip, he blinked his curly lashes and told me, “But Jesus and I will be so sad.” Turns out he finds his spiritual company lacking. In fact, he has been describing the presence of God in many of his stories these days. Stories of sunny skies and victories usually involve “Jesus and I” doing this or that. But retellings about the dark of night and the lurking mongoose begin with a significant character omission. “Last night when there was “flashes” (lightning) and I was so scared and Jesus wasn’t with me . . .” God gets credit for the good, but feels absent in times of trouble.

And I ponder the perspective of my little old soul. And his feelings about the things that go bump. And his honest disappointment with God for not looming larger with a sword to vanquish. In his short years there has been at least one defining moment when he needed rescue and it did not come. My prayers for a son were answered. His birth mother’s prayer for a surrogate were answered. But his prayer appeared to meet the ceiling of an unfamiliar room in an orphanage and dissipate, the water spots on the ceiling left from tears rising, not the steady rain seeping in.

I love this boy and I love the God of healing who is working in our family, tenderly walking with us even when we don’t feel his presence or find the rescue we had reached out for. So I tuck him in. Promise that God is worthy of his trust. And Sis, who is always listening adds from across the hall, “Don’t forget you also have Fire Dog!” Fire Dog joined our family shortly after Mister; chosen after a stranger at the arcade bestowed a small fortune of tickets into the laps of my children, who stood on tiptoe to stuff them, wide-eyed with frenzied greed into the counting machine. Sis squandered her half on shiny princess plastic. But Mister, after careful survey chose Fire Dog, a soft Dalmatian that fits just right under his arm to snuggle against his chest while he sleeps. And he sleeps deeply. He always has. In the arms of Jesus and Fire Dog, the God who he is unsure of and the gift of a stranger, who quite possibly could have been acting as his proxy to deliver real, tangible comfort to a little boy.

“I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8

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