Yesterday, it was the Cheerios box. At lunch time, it was sitting on the floor next to the table. Not spilt or thrown or even knocked over. Probably set down there deliberately to make more space on the breakfast table. Or to be a castle wall against an invading army. Or something. Anyway, I noticed it sitting down there at lunchtime and didn’t feel I needed to say anything about it. Until Blue noticed it and nudged it with his feet. I said that he should keep his feet still. (I didn’t bend over to pick up the box.) Talk moved on and we kept eating. But I knew that there were toes investigating under the table. Then I heard the box tip over. I didn’t need to look. But I told him that I knew what happened. And that I wasn’t happy about it. I reminded him that he likes Cheerios for breakfast and if he kicked over the box and spilt them out on the floor, there would be less breakfast to eat tomorrow. I kept my eyes away from the floor. He looked down, a bit mad to have been noticed, a bit astonished that I’d seen.
In the past couple of weeks, he’s been trying on a few things in his newly acquired big-brother status. I’m trying to balance giving him good attention and keeping him in line. It seems to mainly consist of letting him know that I can see what he’s up to.
I guess that’s the game with our little Plum, too. He’s settling in, but inevitably these newborn days have their fair share of noisiness. We’re doing the tiring work of being there with him in his fussiness, helping him to know that we are close by and that he isn’t alone.
When it gets too much and too loud, Beangirl retreats into a book. Blue’s been following suit, but he’s having a trickier time of it.
He’s just trying to get attention.
Yes he is, my Blue, and that’s not a bad thing. We’re supposed to pay attention to him. That’s how he learns to trust.
And I find myself again in one of those moments of parenting when my kids hold up a mirror and show me myself, and I see again what it means to call God Father.
“Am I a God near by, says the Lord, and not a God far off? Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them? says the Lord.”
God’s nearness is not a comfort in this passage, but a warning. Jeremiah voices God’s lament against prophets whose easy words speak more of the desires of their own hearts than the word of God. God reminds them that they are not hidden and that God is not far way. God is close enough to see and hear all that we do.
God is close enough to see our kicking feet under any table. And close enough to care what we are up to. At times, this can feel uncomfortably close.
But God’s distance would not be comfortable, either. Too often, we feel small in the too-wide world. We hide as a way of coping, but we hide to be found. We put distance around us. We try to get attention. And wherever and however we hide, God seeks and finds us.
“Do I not fill heaven and earth?”
And here we are with our Father God – both near by and far away because God fills all. There’s a warning and a promise. Filling heaven and earth means being present in all times and places. God’s presence in the wide world enables our prayers for those far away from us. God’s presence in our hearts enables us to learn to trust. When we hold God at arm’s length, trying to create a secret place, we leave room for prophets who lie rather than those who listen and then speak the hard God-given words we need to hear.
We call God Father and nothing is outside His household.
We are seen and loved. We may kick our feet and call for attention, but gently and strongly we’re reminded that we are seen and called and shaped into God’s image. We are held close. We are filled.
And in the dark when we awake, feeling alone and crying out in the night, God is close.