Funny how a granddaughter can change your life.
I never expected this.
But I have been knocked out by the joy Ella has brought into my life.
There are a lot of things that just "get me" about her. The way she walks as she holds onto the finger of an adult. Her legs reaching out in a wide arc. Her bare feet feel the ground or surface ahead... almost like another set of hands.
There is the way she hears someone digging in the freezer in the kitchen, and she motors in on all fours saying, "Ice...ice."
There is the way, when she hears music, she begins to move her hands as if she were conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra...only not in an obvious way. With more subtlety.
There is even the way she, when she gets frustrated, puffs up with rage and looks like she is going to blow a gasket. The other night at a barbecue place in Columbus she lost it. The only thing on the table in front of her was a small, stuffed penguin we had bought during a visit to the Zoo that afternoon. Ella rose up, and swept her arm across the table knocking the penguin into the air. Almost as if she was saying, "Okay...the penguin's going to get it...and one of you could be next."
It's all cool.
But the thing that gets me is the way she comes up and leans back against me. She just settles into me. Stretches her arms, tilts her head back over my side as I lie on the floor, and throws her arms around my neck.
Her vocabulary is pretty limited right now, but I think what she would say in those moments is, "I feel safe. I feel safe with you...and we're sort of one."
John Wesley, who founded the Methodist renewal movement, talked a lot about the "assurance" of salvation. What he meant by that, I hunch, is we know when we lean back into the grace of God we are going to be okay. The love of Jesus is going to catch us.
There is a Christian song that talks about "leaning on the everlasting arms." It doesn't talk about leaning on the shoulder of God...or leaning on the tummy of God...or throwing our arms around the neck of God.
But I think you get the idea.
And so does Ella.