During my eighth summer I learned a valuable lesson.
For the final week of summer vacation, I went to Grandma’s turreted farmhouse where exploring all its intriguing nooks and crannies consumed countless summer hours. As interesting as I found all its hidden corners, it was Grandma’s kitchen that was my favorite place on the farm. That generous space sported a well-scrubbed old table and smelled of gingerbread, cinnamon buns and freshly baked herb bread. Life truly seemed perfect each time I was allowed to scrape the bowl in which Grandma had mixed some scrumptious dessert.
Her kitchen door opened out onto a flagstone patio beside which grew her herbs and berries and assorted flowers, including roses. Their scents filled the warm summer air as honey bees flitted from flower to flower and hummingbirds feasted upon red honeysuckle climbing up the white arbor. My days at Grandma’s were idyllic—there were no chores or schedules or unpleasant routines imposed upon my time.
Near the end of my week at Grandma’s, much to my delight, my cousin Eddie arrived one afternoon. Eddie was twelve and I considered him my mentor for all things a boy needed to know for survival. Perhaps my child’s eye perceived him to be a bit more grown-up that he actually was at twelve.
The next morning Eddie suggested we play a game called ‘hide and seek’. I was as eager to play a game with twelve year old Eddie as a young puppy is for attention.
“Sammy, you can be the first to hide and I’ll take the tough job of trying to find you,” Eddie directed.
“Sure, Eddie,” I readily acquiesced.
“Alright, then”, Eddie continued, “I’ll count up to ten while you hide. Then I’ll come find you.”
Eddie covered his eyes and began to count while I scampered off to find a place where I might not be too easily found. As I rounded the corner of Grandma’s house, Eddie was already up to number eight. He was counting so fast I barely had time to scramble behind the huge boxwoods growing along that side of the house.
I settled onto the cool, damp soil beneath the large shrubs and patiently waited to be found. I had some laffy taffy in my pocket which I dug out and unwrapped. Eddie still hadn’t found me by the time I finished all three pieces. I waited and waited.
After a very long time, I crawled from beneath the boxwoods to discover that Eddie was no where in sight. It was then I realized Eddie had never planned to look for me.
When I got to the flagstone patio I wiped the tears away the best I could so Grandma would not see me crying. I had considered Eddie a special friend. I realized Eddie was neither special, nor my friend.
I walked into Grandma’s heavenly scented kitchen and sat at the worn table.
“My goodness, Sammy, what’s the matter? You look like you’ve just lost your best friend!” Grandma exclaimed.
“I don’t have a friend,” I stammered. “Eddie asked me to play hide and seek with him and he told me to hide, but he never did look for me. I waited and waited, but he never even tried to find me.”
Grandma fixed us a sandwich and a piece of chocolate cake. After we finished our cake she said, “Sammy, I’d like to tell you it was just a game and to forget it, but some games can have a purpose. They can be a fun way to learn valuable lessons, lessons like being patient or learning to wait for something that matters. I think you have learned about patience, Sammy. I’m not sure Eddie has yet learned about seeking. Not everything in life is obvious or easy—sometimes we have to search for the things that are valuable, like a true friend.”
We sat at her kitchen table for a long time, Grandma and I. I could hear the bees buzzing among the flowers and the scent of roses floating on the summer breeze was particularly strong that day.
Finally, Grandma reached across the table to touch my small hand with her thin, aging ones. She said, “You know, Sammy, I think you were in very good company today as you patiently waited to be found—Jesus, too, patiently waits for lots of folks to seek and to find Him.”
Based on Matthew 6:33 (NIV)
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