A front porch swing can become a holy place in a heartbeat. All it takes is a few minutes with that wonder of wonders - a grandchild!
Miss Hazel, age two, and I recently sat a spell in the cooling quiet of a late spring evening. At some point, a silly little game, nothing out of the ordinary, ensued. She wrapped my finger in her soft hand and tugged at it, squeezing tightly.
"Who's got my finger?" I asked as if I was afraid my finger had been taken.
"Ha-el!" she exclaimed, a tinge of a Southern accent combined with the challenge of including the "z" sound in the word.
"Oh, good," I answered, relieved. "I thought it was gone!"
"No, Ha-el," she replied with delighted laughter.
It doesn't take much, you know, to have a blast. At least not for the grandparent.
She must have enjoyed it, as we continued the ritual, each time eliciting giggles and bafflement that "Hub" couldn't figure out that Ha-el had his finger.
All good things wind to an end, evidenced by her waning laughter with each repetition. Even Hub can't be that clueless, the two-year-old realized. She upped the ante.
Now, she grabbed my whole hand. "Oh, no, my hand's gone! Who's got it?"
The giggles came before the response. "Ha-el," she finally said, still chuckling.
Great was my relief that my hand was in her safekeeping. We repeated that one a couple of times and then she went for broke, latching onto my forearm.
"My arm, my arm! Who's got my arm?" I'll never win an Oscar, but she doesn't know it, so I tumbled desperation into my voice.
"Ha-el!!"came the answer. Wouldn't Hub ever learn?
The game was winding to a close, I could tell, so I brokered a question. "Well," I asked. "Who's got my heart?"
The answer wasn't what I expected.
"JESUS!" she said.
I sat silent, the little bundle of love and joy snuggled against me, holding my hand and rubbing my fingers gently.
"Who, Hazel? Who's got my heart?"
"Jesus," she repeated.
I sat in stunned silence, soaking in the splendor of grace received and of blessed assurance.
For a moment, I paused to give thanks for Alecia and Cole, our daughter-in-law and our youngest son, and for their Christian witness. And for Crossroads Fellowship in Augusta, Georgia, Hazel's church home. And for everyone who pours so much into her so that something so powerful can come pouring out.
Jesus has my heart. This I know. And Ha-el might have a little piece of it, too.