She stared directly at me and burned a hole in me with her dark brown eyes. She was holding her mother’s hand and lagging a little behind her mother’s pace. Her red dress was what first caught my eyes and then her face drew everything toward her. She really looked at me as if she knew me and knew all about my life. I wish I could use the right words to describe what I felt but in a minute I knew she knew me. Right there at gate C14, as I made my way to baggage claim, a 2-year-old named Sierra captivated me. Her mother walked by me and she turned her body around to look at me. She began waving and then stopped. I of course, stopped and said, I see you… you are beautiful. What’s your name? As I bent down to talk to her, she had stopped her mother as well. The mother’s eyes were gentle but tired and she smiled and said, Her name is Sierra. By then Sierra and I were in full embrace and I said again, “I see you and I love you.” I had been away from Max, Zach and Ron for days and I was so thankful for Sierra’s hug. As her mother began to pull away, Sierra motioned kisses to me in the air. an appropriate farewell for a 2 year old. Her hair covered in red ponytails, her white shoes, her red polka dot dress, as cute as they were, all paled in comparison to the countenance on her face–pure love.
Have you ever met anyone and see it shining from their faces? And then there’s the knowing… the real, genuine, truthful knowing that is exchanged in the connection. It was more than words shared, because to be honest, I was the only one talking. Her mother after sharing her named, sheepishly said, “thank you,” when I commented on her beauty. As they walked away, I stood and told Sierra “I’ll see you another day. Go with your Mamma, she’s a good Mamma and she loves you and I’ll see you another day. Sierra continued to blow kisses until finally she turned around to catch up with her mother’s stride.
As I made my way down the hallway toward baggage claim and toward my family I was thankful for the gift of our encounter. I have been pondering this season… all it means and all I still don’t comprehend about these holy days. This morning, Zach summed it up on the way to school. We were talking about Jesus and about Easter. We talked about how Jesus came to teach about God’s love and show us how much we are loved and he eventually died doing so. Zach one of my back seat theologians said, “yea, that Jesus loves us more than we can know.” That sums it up for me. Max and I agreed and I wished I had said it that way ‘cause it’s true.
Every once in a while I am reminded of how that love knows me, claims me, sustains me, invites me, embraces me and sees me. Like my meeting with Sierra. Out of nowhere I’m instantly reconnected and reminded and overwhelmed with more love than I can know. I wish that for you. If you see a little girl in a red polka dotted dress, don’t pass her by. She may be Christ’s messenger with a kiss or a hug for you on your journey. It is almost easier to forget to be on the lookout for the angels that live and visit us everyday as messengers of God’s love. Who knows, maybe God was using me that day to see Sierra and her mom and to be of an encourager for them along their way; just as they were to me.
As Paul is closing his letter to the Hebrews, he writes these words, “Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:1-2 NRSV)
I sang for a leadership event for Calvary Community Church in the Los Angeles area last month. A small group of leaders and chosen influencers gathered to focus on making their church a more hospitable place. We talked about fun, we talked about being inviting and we talked about being on the lookout. One lady said it well when she said that she was much better at recognizing opportunities in her rear view mirror. I’m not sure how it works, but God is moving and I’m looking out my windshield at what’s coming. Join me on the lookout.
Love you, Celia