We found ourselves alone in a little church on Stanley’s main street a few weeks back. It had started to rain and the little weatherboard church beckoned – I love the way many of the older churches remain unlocked during the day for people seeking solace. Or shelter.
It has a spectacular stained glass window of the last supper that arrests your attention as you walk in. And there was red everywhere; velvet cushions on the pews, the patterned carpet, even the light seemed tinged with red.
We had just received bad news, so we parked our behinds on a pew up the back thinking we would pray. Not that God wouldn’t have heard us if we had told him our cares outside, in the open air. But the church was cosy. I told our energetic toddler to come sit beside us (he was doing laps of the aisle).
“Watching?” he said, once he had settled beside me.
“What are we watching, sweetheart?” I asked.
“Lady dancing,” he replied, with an excited note to his voice.
I looked at hubby, raised an eyebrow. We were alone in the church, just the three of us.
“Where is she?” I asked.
“What was she wearing?” I tried again.
My boy looked up into my face and, without hesitation said, “Butterfly wings.”
There was a moment in that little Stanley church when the air was thick with wonder. My son is articulate for his age and has a wide vocabulary – there was no denying what he said. But what did he see?
I believe in angels.
The Bible speaks of angels as “ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation” (Hebrews 1:14), and Jesus hinted at the unique relationship between children and angels when he said, “See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10)
From conception, we are tasked with the care of “these little ones”, the responsibility to protect, nurture, teach and nourish. But I am reminded of that quote, “While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about” (Angela Schwindt).
Children have a vulnerability, a naïveté, an innocence that is exquisitely beautiful. I believe these qualities enable them to receive unique spiritual insight, like the lady dancing with butterfly wings in the little weatherboard church at Stanley.
Our son is two today.
With each milestone we triumph at his toddler-sized steps towards understanding and, ultimately, adulthood. But today I’m just thankful that he’s two and no older, because through his eyes I can see that life is simple, charged with wonder, brimming with the love of our Heavenly Father who sends angels to dance in the darkness.
As printed in The Examiner Newspaper for Keeping the Faith column on Monday April 15, 2013.