Where have you been? Where are you going? And why?
“Yute! Watch me, RUN!” my two year old nephew yells, requesting my attention. Joyously, Isaiah performs face plants head first into the grass. After each somersault into the green ocean, he pops up to show me all over again. Little does he know, he’s teaching me.
A foreign, dark skinned neighbor, dressed in her religious shawl, walks by with two young children. She pushes one of them in a carriage. Fear seeps in. Me, not the boy. Oh crap, I don’t know how to relate to someone with such a different background. What do I do, what do I say? Think, think, think. Oh good, I can share a mutual smile with her because of our common ground of watching the toddlers. We introduce them to each other, as if they really need it. Now what? Speechless, I begin sizing her up. Okay, worse. My friend would term it “judging the hell out of her”, though I would not go so far as to say it like that; except I just did. She’s different. Dissimilar values, different traditions, crazy religious views, unreachable, lost. She wouldn’t know what I’m talking about. She wouldn’t accept me. This is really about me.
Isaiah doesn’t seem to get it. He still has a smile on his face. He runs circles around this woman’s niece. The girl is shy. Still, my nephew continues his coaxing, delighting in his invitation for her to join in his running face plants. There is no trace of shame in his wide open heart. Isaiah circles her again. Laughing. He doesn’t get it. She’s different than him. His guard isn’t up, yet. Why did I instinctively add that “yet”? Because I know. And he does not. Yet. And I wish I was him.