A Note from Jessie – Covenant Newsletter, April 2020

I must admit that I did not immediately comply when my young son, bright-eyed from the outdoors, came bursting through the front door with the breathless request, “Mama! Close your eyes and stick out your hand!”

Um, no thanks.

You see, through the weeks upon weeks of this quarantine, there has been a seemingly endless menagerie of creatures that have haplessly found their ways into that little boy’s hands. Garter snakes, salamanders, tadpoles, frogs, fish, unidentifiable insects and eggs and…

No, I politely (and understandably?) declined the request to blindly offer an open hand.

Having spent weeks upon weeks in such close proximity, however, the boy was now intuitively perceptive of my hesitation. In fact, it was soon clear that he had predicted my untrusting lack of cooperation as he seamlessly followed up with an earnest addendum, “I promise this is a surprise that will make your heart so happy!”

Well, what choice did I have after that?

I closed my eyes. I stuck out my hand.

The sensation of something small, light, plant-like (I was praying not insect-like?) passed between his dusty hand and mine.

When I opened my eyes, I discovered not one, but two, perfectly formed—if not a tad withered from the hand-held excitement— four leaf clovers. I stared silently for a beat, mouth ajar, before exclaiming, “what?!”

His excitement now spilled over in one long stream of explanation: “Well, Daddy and I remembered that today is the anniversary of the day when your daddy went to heaven, and we figured you might need something really special to cheer you up if you were feeling a little sad or missing him or anything, so we went on a hunt for something reallyamazing and can you believe that when we spent enough time looking we BOTH found four leaf clovers for the first time EVER?! Now Daddy says we can dry them and press them in a book and frame them and know that there are hidden gifts everywhere if you just look long enough!”

Well, what choice did I have after that?

I hugged that sun-kissed head with all my might then got busy following orders, pulling from the highest shelf two thick books that were suitable for pressing and preserving these most precious of gifts.

You may even stop believing me now when I tell you that my husband and daughter entered the scene soon thereafter with not one (I am not kidding you) but two more four leaf clovers. I quickly learned that my little girl was hard-bent on joining in the festivities, and with the determination that is surely particular only to a younger sister of an adventurous older brother, she stayed the course in that sweeping stretch of green until she found her very own four leaf clover offerings alongside her patient, eagle-eyed daddy.

And thus began the full family pilgrimage, with even the dog in tow, to support me in my dreams of joining the ranks that afternoon of “expert four leaf clover discoverers extraordinaire.” And for the very first time in my 39 years of life, and countless prior attempts, I spotted my own treasure— four perfectly formed heart-shaped leaves attached to a slender green stem. Our fifth and final impossible gift of the day.

I am still gleaning all the goodness out of this already treasured memory, but one thought keeps floating up to the top:

There truly are gifts hidden everywhere, if only we take the time to find them. In the midst of pain, alongside suffering, tucked into uncertainty, and smack dab in the middle of anxiety and disappointment, God offers us treasure upon treasure. He gives us love. He grants us forgiveness and pours grace over our weary heads. He fills up our hearts with hope and peace that passes understanding. He lays out a creation that is infinitely more beautiful than our often-hurried minds can comprehend. Sometimes it just takes a forceable nudge or a world-halting pandemic to see the beauty with ready eyes and open hearts.

On that day, I felt seen, too. My watchful people saw me. And they didn’t look to find goodness or kindness or productivity. They took the time to see me in the sadness and brokenness that I was trying to brush away and hide from view.

What if the one treasure we all take away from these unusual weeks upon weeks of quarantine is the chance to see the world, each other, and even ourselves as precious gifts from a loving Father who so longs for us to pause and open our eyes?

Amen.

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