January 18, 2012

Seeing Jesus

As we parked, my daughter whispered: “I hope I make at least one friend today.”

My husband and I exchanged the glance that roughly translates into our willingness to cut off an arm so that this could happen.

“You will,” we reassured. And then we both quietly said a prayer.

Moving is hard.

Our kids were beginning their first day of school in a new state, nearly three hours from their friends, teachers and comfortable routines.

Other children mingled on the front lawn of the school, waiting for the doors to open.

As we crossed the courtyard, we heard someone calling out our daughter’s name. We walked on. We didn’t know anybody there. Surely they were calling another child named Madeline.

“Hey Madeline,” the little girl said, running up to us. “Today’s your first day, right? I’m Mia. I’m in your class. We’re so excited you’re here.

“We’ve been waiting for you.”

Joy clutched my throat as I watched a smile break across our 10-year-old’s face. She squared her shoulders and walked taller up the stairs to begin her first day at the new school.

Each time I think of this amazing welcome, this unforeseen gift of hospitality and kindness, tears start. I saw Jesus in that child as she transformed anxiety into anticipation, the unknown into unexpected adventure.

And I thought about what it would mean if we welcomed others with that same gracious spirit.

“This is your first time?”

“We’re so excited you’re here.”

“We’ve been waiting for you.”