We were the only family with children in the restaurant. I sat Erik
in a high chair and noticed everyone was quietly eating and talking.
Suddenly, Erik squealed with glee and said, “Hi there.” He
pounded his fat baby hands on the highchair tray. His eyes were
wide with excitement and his mouth was bared in a toothless grin.
He wriggled and giggled with merriment. I looked around and saw
the source of his merriment.
It was a man with a tattered rag of a coat; dirty, greasy and worn.
His pants were baggy with a zipper at half-mast and his toes poked
out of would-be shoes. His shirt was dirty and his hair was uncombed
and unwashed. His whiskers were too short to be called a beard and
his nose was so varicose it looked like a road map. We were too far
from him to smell, but I was sure he smelled. His hands waved and
flapped on loose wrists. “Hi there, baby; hi there, big boy. I see ya,
buster,” the man said to Erik.
My husband and I exchanged looks, “What do we do?” Erik
continued to laugh and answer, “Hi, hi there.” Everyone in the
restaurant noticed and looked at us and then at the man. The old
geezer was creating a nuisance with my beautiful baby. Our meal
came and the man began shouting from across the room, “Do
ya know patty cake? Do you know peek-a-boo? Hey, look,
he knows peek-a-boo.” Nobody thought the old man was cute.
He was obviously drunk. My husband and I were embarrassed.
We ate in silence; all except for Erik who was running through his
repertoire for the admiring skid row We finally got through the meal
and headed for the door. My husband went to pay the check and
told me to meet him in the parking lot. The old man sat poised
between the door and me. “Lord, just let me out of here before he
speaks to me or Erik,” I prayed.
As I drew closer to the man, I turned my back trying to sidestep
him and avoid any air he might be breathing. As I did, Erik leaned
over my arm, reaching with both arms in a baby’s “pick-me-up”
position. Before I could stop him, Erik had propelled himself from
my arms to the man’s. Suddenly a very old smelly man and a very
young baby consummated their love relationship. Erik in an act of
total trust, love, and submission laid his tiny head upon the man’s
ragged shoulder. The man’s eyes closed, and I saw tears hover
beneath his lashes.
His aged hands full of grime, pain, and hard labor -- gently, so
gently, cradled my baby’s bottom and stroked his back. No two
beings have ever loved so deeply for so short a time. I stood
awestruck. The old man rocked and cradled Erik in his arms for
a moment, and then his eyes opened and set squarely on mine.
He said in a firm commanding voice, ‘’You take care of this baby.”
Somehow I managed, “I will,” from a throat that contained a
He pried Erik from his chest - - unwillingly, longingly, as though
he were in pain. I received my baby, and the man said,
“God bless you, ma’am, you’ve given me my Christmas gift.”
I said nothing more than a muttered thanks. With Erik in my arms,
I ran for the car. My husband was wondering why I was crying
and holding Erik so tightly, and why I was saying,
“My God, my God, forgive me.” I had just witnessed Christ’s
love shown through the iMocence of a tiny child who saw no sin,
who made no judgment; a child who saw a soul, and a mother
who saw a suit of clothes. I was a Christian who was blind,
holding a child who was not. I felt it was God asking - -
“Are you willing to share your son for a moment?” - -
when He shared His for all eternity. The ragged old man,
unwittingly, had reminded me, “To enter the Kingdom of
God, we must become as little children.”
If this has blessed you, please bless others by sending it on.