As I clear a small place in my life for patience, I lean back on the park bench and close my eyes ever so gently. I am feeling a sense of peace wash over me like waves on the beach washing over broken shells on a calm sunny day. My skin tingles. Gentleness, goodness, joy: they all arrive in their time as do the tears. Spirit tears: the ones that drip down my cheek and across the hint of a smile on my lips. I am smiling because I know this place. I know it well. This is the place of dreams. This is the place of visions. This is where I am privileged to watch my little girl play in Heaven.
Today is Hannah's birthday. Amy, Sophia, Joy, Alex, Elli, Faith, baby Lucas … they are all here to celebrate. I can't really see any of them, but as I focus on each of their spirits in turn, I see images of their parents. I can't see their faces, but I can sense their happiness, their joy, their playfulness, their interactions with each other. I am infected by their laughter.
Amy approaches to greet me, “Hi Dad! I am so glad you are here today. It's Hannah's birthday!”
“What are you guys doing?”
“We're doing cake.”
At this point, Amy has taken her characteristic pose, cross-legged, chin in her hands, watching me intently with the ever-present smirk. She has set me up with one of her unadorned briefest of answers already anticipating my next question. She draws me in close. She knows no conversation could possibly end here.
I comply in typical Dad-ly fashion, “What KIND of cake?”
“Duh! Dad. Angel food!” Amy's smirk just got broader. She got me.
“Of course. Silly me for asking. But I get the sense this cake is different than the earthly kind.”
“Oh, Dad! It is waaaaay different. This kind glows white and bright from the inside. And it has all kinds of tiny colorful sparkly things we call Skwisses. Sorta like glittering Tinkerbells only smaller. They sing and dance in the cake as you bring it to your mouth. And are you ready for this? This is so cool! When it hits your mouth, it disappears like cotton candy and tickles. It makes you all giggly inside. Oh! And the best part? After you have a piece, if you nod your head and blink hard, the Skwisses come squirting back out your eyes, fly around giving everyone hugs and kisses, and then they disappear!”
With this, we both are laughing, “I get it! Squirting kisses. That's crazy! I love it! Are there other kinds?”
“Oh! Dad! They are all different. We make them up each time.”
“Yet another advantage of playing with God, huh! You get to create your own fun with the Creator himself. Sounds like heaven to me!”
“You're really going to like it here, Dad. But, um, no hurry, OK?”
“No rush my dear. I am fine right where I am … and am comfortable with where I am headed. You go back and play. I have to return to my earthly responsibilities. Love you!”
“Love you too! Oh, and one more thing.”
“God loves you too!”
With that, I rest a moment longer soaking in the love that floods this place. The park bench, the path, the playground all begin to fade. The thin place thickens. And as I begin to hear the clock of urgency begin to tick again, I pick up some kindness, some joy, and a little patience, cache them in my pocket and return to the world of to-do lists and schedules. I return soaked and dripping with love to a parched world in dire need of it.
And with a nod and blinking hard, I whisper, “Happy Birthday, Hannah.” and greet the start of the rest of my day with a Skwiss.