She practically did a tap dance as she walked out to greet us on the porch of her home. As we pulled in, the long driveway curved in a half moon shape leading up to the ten-thousand square foot spread covered in white and gray stone. The entrance was lined with petunias that were lovely and vibrant. She told me how much she loves them and how they come back every year because they are the wave kind.
I noticed her lipstick and her smile. A perfect shade of pink. The lines of time were etched on her face, but I would not have guessed her in her nineties. Time had been kind to her or maybe she had learned to wear it well.
Her eyes were young and danced in a way that held a lifetime of stories and a carefree spirit.
The delight she felt at having visitors in her massive space was palpable. A space often filled with the tick of the clock and too much silence.
We small talked while my daughter played on the floor by my feet, pulling vintage toys by string with the curiosity of her new found treasures.
As the conversation evolved, I could hear the loneliness of being widowed in her words. “I don’t understand why I had to be alone for so long.” It hung in the air for a moment. I thought to myself how our nagging questions don’t discriminate who they haunt. They come to us all. They don’t always get answered with time.
But she carried hers differently.
And perhaps that’s the reason she was able to play and dance with my daughter with a grace and agility that surprised me and made me want to get on the floor myself.
Eliana’s eyes danced too, the way most young children’s do. Maybe because children are closer to heaven than adults are. Birthed in the mind of God and sent to earth as a gift to a waiting world, each year blowing out an additional candle and the memory of where we came from receding further into the recesses of our mind.
G.K. Chesterton says something that unsettles me and makes my heart yearn with the desire to become younger in my soul with each birthday that passes:
“He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”
The eternal appetite of infancy. The look of wonder in a baby’s eyes. Inexhaustible wonder. The thrill of seeing the same thing over and over as if seeing it for the first time. A curiosity to explore this world because life has not taught them yet to fear or to be dissatisfied. Or the lie that there is more bad than good.
Yes, children are indeed closer to God.
Maybe that’s the secret to aging with grace. Maybe that’s why Jesus says you must become like little children to enter the kingdom of Heaven. Maybe our sin is that we allow our hearts to grow old before their time.