Photograph courtesy of K. Farwell

This past week has been, well, different. A couple of days ago my dogs woke me up barking, and as I was letting them out the back door I noticed my backyard gate was open. I stopped the dogs from going out, and as I started out to close the gate I saw a little boy standing just to the right of my gate. I asked him if he’d opened it. He said, “Yes, I want to see the dogs.” He was very small, very vulnerable, and very, very, alone—–so I told him to meet me at my front door and I’d bring out one dog for him to play with. He tried to close my gate but couldn’t figure out how to get the latch to work.

Of course, he repeatedly rang my doorbell before I could get the gate closed and make it to my front door. On the way I quickly picked up Gus, my Maltipoo who has never met a stranger, and took him out with me to meet our guest. Then began one of the strangest encounters I have ever had. The boy was able to tell me he was five years old, but he would not tell me his name. He did not know his address, his phone number, or what his mother’s name was. He said he’d been walking a long ways, and indeed there was a lot of grass stuck to his bare feet. He had evidently been walking through dew-covered cut grass.

He picked some of my flowers and brought them to me. If you look at the photo published with today’s blog you will be able to see they were past their prime and needed picked.  He was dressed in Spider Man shorts and a Rocky Raccoon long sleeve t-shirt.  The only useful information I was able to get out of him was that he went to day care at the school across the street from my house.

I called 911, and the police finally came to help. The officer who showed up said his name was “Zach, ” and he did a very good job of talking to the child. However,  he was also unable to get any useful information out of the child. The child would point to the right and say his house was that way. Then he would point to the left and say his house was that way. He was adamant about wanting to go to the water park, that he was not running away, and would we please give him a ride to his house.

After about 45 minutes the officer’s radio let us know a mother two to three streets over had called to report that when she woke up this morning her little boy was not there. That was enough for the officer to call for backup to accompany him as he drove the child to this woman’s address. I patted the boy on the back told him to have a good day, and thanked him for stopping and talking to me.

I suppose the whole incident was a karma type “payback” for when I was about five years old and tried to run away from home. I was in the middle of the country, and a car drove by and stopped. An older man was driving the car, and he talked me into going back home and into getting in his car so he could give me a ride home. He actually took me home. He did not know me or my parents. He was kind. I was lucky. My encounter gave me a chance to “payback” the man’s kindness. This time I got to be kind and help a small child stay safe.

For some reason, I keep noticing little boys now. Yesterday, I gave away my king-sized bed—–and as my friends were loading it into the back of their pickup my two neighbor boys came over and asked me if I was moving. They couldn’t understand why I’d be giving a bed a way. These kids are my “buds”—-they stop by to visit whenever they see me out in my yard.

But then I noticed a little boy in church today. At my church it is our practice to anoint small children with oil during communion rather than serving them communion. Our priest got down at the little boy’s level and smiled and talked to him as she made the sign of the cross on his forehead with the anointing oil.  After she was finished,  the little boy  turned around and started walking back to his pew—–and started jumping for joy.

What’s the message in all this? I guess it is simply to be aware of what is going on around you and to do the next right thing—————–even if it is not what you’d planned on doing. I would like to have the innocent joy of the one young boy—–and the absolute trust of the boy who showed up at my backyard gate.  I feel like Wendy in Peter Pan, I’ve grown up.  However,  I can still  be happy; I can be “present” in the moment; and I can trust others although my trust is no longer so freely given. God bless and keep you.