Yesterday we took an impromptu visit to the zoo with the Band of Brothers and Miss Thing.
It wasn’t a particularly beautiful day…overcast…a little on the muggy cool side, and it worked out that their neighbors were interested in going and so that mom connected with us for a meet up.
She thought it would be fun to treat all of them to a ride on the ancient carousel that is kind of the grand finale of a trip through the zoo and so as we waited for our turn to board, Caroline speculated on which animal she wanted to ride on as she held tightly to her little token like it was made of pure gold.
Eyes dancing, she weighed in on various options and then set her heart on the “chocolate bunny.” As I looked at the paint-chipped animals creaking by, I had to laugh when I saw one that did indeed look like one of those Easter confections with the weird pink eyes.
I pointed out to her that there were children ahead of us and our host that would have first pick, but God smiled on her little blonde head and she was able to clamor up on to the bunny of her dreams.
We thought it a good idea that one of us ride with an arm between her and the open concrete to her left, since the child seems to have a penchant for scrapes and bruises.
Since I was trying to keep my balance on the rickety ride whilst holding one hand out to her side…so as not to let her know I was actually going to catch her if she fell because she is one free spirit, I have only one blurry photo of her before we got going.
But I have a highlight reel in my heart that is a treasure moth and rust cannot destroy.
As she started going up and down and around and around, I could hear her laughing and squealing. No expensive ride in the grandest theme park of any of the greatest of engineering feats by Walt Disney could have evoked any more joy.
Several times she looked back at me and called out, “Dis is sooooo much fun!!! I never rode on da carousel before! Dis is my first time!!!!!”
Now it is entirely possible that she has indeed ridden on this icon of the local zoo, but with Covid entering our world and taking us all out of anything public for so long, she may not remember.
But for her yesterday, this was her first time that someone said yes to the ride and put a coin in her hand and she got the animal she wanted and life for Caroline was good and full in that moment.
And for me…oh my…I am reminded of a truth I have learned in my later years.
The fullness of people that God has blessed me to love and be loved by literally fills my heart so full at times that it feels it might burst wide open in a beautiful but almost painful way.
It is one of the parts of getting older that I had not heard of, but I can tell you that every year stretches this heart of mine wider to make room for more love and I can almost physically feel it expanding.
And every time I gasp for breath as I feel my entire heart is growing like the old Grinch movie and will bust right out of my chest, I pray that God is pushing out the very last remnants of self-centeredness and pride so we can make room for more of His kind of love.
An old hymn speaks of the concept that at the Cross, joy and sorrow meet.
I feel certain that as we allow the pure love of Christ to rule in our hearts, we experience this mysterious mingling more and more.
The simple and ordinary moments become sacred and what may have just been a fun and happy memory becomes an offering of praise to God that we were given the chance to participate in as something precious and untainted in this broken world.
I pray for you moments that are so filled with joy, they make your heart threaten to burst…not all the time…that would be too much…but just when you need them the most.
Journey onward my friends…we are not just getting older, God is making us better <3