She was the latest of my children to begin the mastery of speech, but once she did, quiet moments were rare and coincided with her sleep schedule.
She had much to say mostly about princesses and how Disneyland needed her to come visit the castle.
She seemed to have an opinion about everything, and often rattled through her day grumbling or singing happy tunes, depending on her mood. And she had moods because she was three.
She would come beside me and pull me close to her and whisper in my ear. And funny girl, when she whispered, she had nothing to say.
She just whispered wind.
But she loved the idea of a secret to share.
She whispered with the posture of a sage as if her words carried great import.
The meaning wasn’t in the words, the value was in the sharing.
And the treasure was that it was my ear that she reached for, my attention she craved.
So I leaned in and listened for a trace of purpose to her shushing speech, not to hear great things, but to get nearer to her heart.
Because what girl will share big secrets to a parent who could not bend and pause to hear the little ones? Could she trust me with the weightier stuff of life if I had not handled the nonsense handled with equal care?
Because I knew this girl and loved her for it. I knew that expression was her talent and relationships her medium.
She would toddle away, secret told, and get lost in a world of make-believe where families of dolls, or worms, or grapes, or even her own chubby fingers had she nothing to manipulate, would talk to one another. I could see her making one be a daddy, one a brother, one a beautiful-princess-sister, one a kitten…and they would all talk to one another in a world of words.
These miniature characters were chattering about lunch or the park or a beautiful dress, but I could hear their words distilling into a few magical phrases: Do you hear me? Are you listening? You matter to me; am I important to you? Are you really listening?
At church we began a new series called Listen!
The takeaway message was this: God leans in to hear us, because he loves us. He descends to respond to our craving for nearness to him.
It isn’t the clarity of our speech, the grand persuasive nature of our phrases, our eloquence or intelligence, but our reaching up to Him that matters most.
He always bends to listen.