I met Christ today in the person of a seven-year-old girl named Eloise. She came up to me while I was sitting on a rock along the lakeside. I was silently praying, asking for healing, using words from a favorite poem by Nancy Wood: “Earth cure me. Earth receive my woe. Rock strengthen me. Rock receive my weakness.”
Up comes Eloise saying “hello.”
Then she said to me, “I’m going to go throw this rock in the water.” She was wearing a blue and white checkered skirt, one red sock and one blue one, florescent yellow shoes, a blue t-shirt with personal messages written on it, and a pink and green sparkling hat over bright red hair, still drying from a jump in the lake.
“Okay” I said. She threw the rock, and then watched it. The rock disappears, and what is left is ever-widening circles. When the ripples stopped she said, “I like to watch the ripples and see how far they go and how they disappear.”
I find myself smiling. The kind of smile you can’t even stop.
Then Christ tells me, “The earth is really wonderful, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is” I tell Eloise, as tears catch in my eyes.
She throws another rock, watches it. “I like to watch the light in the circles on the water” she says. And then, “Do you want to throw one?” She hands me a rock. So I throw a rock with Christ, and we watch it sink out of sight, and watch the circles widen and then disappear again. I think about a rock receiving my pain. I think about that rock disappearing to sink to the bottom of the lake. I think about how that pain causes ripples that touch other people, other parts of life, widening. But then it dissipates, and the water returns returns to the surface it was.
Our lives aren’t quite like that. We may never recover like water. But I pray: Let me be like water. Returning, smoothing to calm. Let me return easily to a good-soul state–a sacred space. “The world is really amazing isn’t it?” Christ interrupts again. And I try not to show my emotion. “I mean,” she continues, “it’s so limitless. I bet there are places on this earth where no one has ever been.”
“Yes, I bet that’s true.” I say, thinking I had those same thoughts when I was her age, praying for her and what may come in her life.
“I have to go now” she says to me. “But I’m going to throw one more rock. You can have the rest.” She pulls rocks out of her skirt pocket. We watch her last rock go into the water, and when the ripples go away, her family, who have been watching from about twenty feet away, call to her and say “Okay, Eloise, it’s time to move on.” I fantasize for a moment that maybe they know they are disciples, walking around with Christ, who is making resurrection appearances at the lakeside. But probably not. Resurrection seems often to be a little hidden.
“It was nice to meet you, Eloise” I tell Christ. And I think in my head of all the places Christ is present. In this girl, in this rock, in this world, and in me. In the name of the God who is still creating, redeeming, and sustaining, I am a child of God.