A darling little girl lives in my neighborhood and makes it her duty to ride her bike up to my window and say hello. Her eyes look through the glass, past the blinds, seeking out my face. Today she’s off to the garden. She knows there are beans growing there and she promises upon her return to let me know what else lives below and above the fertile ground. I would go out and talk to her but I’m afraid that soon she’ll start knocking. How silly am I! Her knock would be the most precious knock I’m sure. But I have to think beyond her darling presence to her parents who hardly know me and to the fact that such a friendly girl shouldn’t always be encouraged to befriend strangers, even harmless ones like myself.
It’s a cruel world, kid, and I don’t want you getting hurt. So I’ll keep my distance. I’ll continue to only talk to you from the window. And I’ll welcome your eyes anytime.
“I know who you are,” he said with that childish confidence that would have irritated me had I been 7 years old but instead endeared me to him. Following his statement were the seemingly rehearsed “yeah’s” of his sisters—apparently they knew me too. “How do you know who I am,” I responded with slight attitude and a smirk. “You go to the same school as my dad,” he clarified quite matter-of-factly. “And who’s your dad?” He gave me a name I didn’t know and that’s where our friendly banter ended as his mother came along smiling and he and his sisters got caught up in something else. Our time was up. No formal entry and no formal exit. He kept it simple—I know you.
What is it with children and knowing? Why are they so comfortable, so trusting in this place of transience? I’ve walked these steps before, grown accustomed to the stain of crab apples on the sidewalk during the summer and the smell of dairy cows so nicely dispersed by the autumn breeze. And who could forget the snow? But the bully who threw the crab apples at me is long gone, the cows have lost their aura, and I actually like most of winter.
Yet children still play and adults still ramble on about the lack of community among fellow believers and our need to reach out. So we form small groups with formal entries and formal exits.
I’d rather keep it simple—I know you and here’s how.
And a little child shall lead them if they would just pay attention.