“Dear Resident Cricket.” That’s how the note began. “After weeks of your cheerful little ‘songs of praise’ down there in the hinterlands (i.e., the basement), I can hardly remember my name. I think Obama is president, but it may be Reagan. Or George ‘Not W’ Bush.” I was getting good and warmed up.
“If it were not for your racket, it is entirely possible that I could have written the next great American novel by now, but no. That will have to wait until you’ve ‘embraced the season of death’ as I’m often advising and have found yourself on the bottom of Mr. Schrock’s slipper. I am left with but one thing to say: Die! Die! Die! Signed, The Frazzled Writer.”
It’s been going on for weeks. From somewhere below my feet, the erstwhile Schrock cricket has been busy day and night, and he’s been loud about his business. When I shared this angst with my friends, they allowed as how some of his cousins had visited them. So far, they reported, the crafty little boogers had managed to avoid ending up on the bottom of a shoe, a slipper or on a rolled-up newspaper.
Thankfully, however, there’s another little critter at our house who continues to bring happiness and joy just by being. He’s such a happy waker-upper that sometimes we call him the Cheerful Little Cricket for all the cheerful chirping he does of a morning.
It astounds me, still, that he’s ours. We sure hadn’t planned on him coming. We hadn’t. But lucky us and happy day. That’s how we feel about it now. Why, just the other night, I was standing at the bathroom sink, brushing his teeth with a whale toothbrush. There he stood in his jammies with the blue eyes he got from his dad. It hit me again, so I said to him, this child of mine, “You’re a joy and a delight and a treat. You’re a blessing to other people!” And all matter of fact, he said, “Uh-huh,” through a mouthful of bubbles and bristles as though he’d heard it a thousand times.
It got me thinking, that little exchange, that this is how God looks at us. That He sees His kids, too, as “a joy, a delight, a treat and a blessing to other people.” It stopped me in my tracks. “Goodness,” I thought to myself. “What if we knew this truth and really believed it? How much difference it would make in our lives.”
This beautiful primer on the everlasting love of the Lord dropped, all jewel like, in my path in the daily tending of our smallest lamb. Mercy and grace right there, because we embraced that gift.
Speaking of The Cricket, I was thrilled clear up to my roots the other night. I was finishing the last of the day’s reports when a voice came drifting out from the darkness of his bedroom. “Mama,” it said, “can you come see me when you’re done with your work on the computer?”
Well, what mother on any of the seven continents can resist a plea like that? Not this one. So finishing my work, I slipped into his bed, laying my head next to his on the pillow. “What’s your favorite donut?” This is what he says into the dark.
“The glazed ones at our favorite bakery,” I say, smiling. “And what’s yours?” As it turns out, he’s got more than one, for he begins to list what I know to be the inventory of the display case. After several minutes of such discussion, I kiss his head and slip back out, leaving his drowsy form safely tucked in.
It warms my heart in a way I cannot describe to recall the love of the Shepherd for these, His sheep. “Let the children come to Me,” He’d told His harried disciples sternly, “and do not stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” And loving Jesus, friend of all children, laid His hands on them and blessed them.
It was several weeks ago that the annual See You at the Pole observance was held nationally, including a certain elementary school just up the road. He’d come home, The Cricket had, chirping his desire to go. Then, the night before, he told me why.
“Mama,” he said, all serious and straight, “the reason I want to pray tomorrow is because I love Jesus with all my heart.”
“I tell you the truth,” the Source of all truth once said, “unless you are converted and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” The answer for living in a complicated world isn’t complicated at all, and Little, the Cheerful Cricket, leads the way. Loving God and loving others, that comes first and second. Then ourselves? We come third.
Wait. That sounds like a Sunday School song we used to sing. “J-O-Y. Jesus first, yourself last and others in between,” we sang in church. That spells joy for everyone, small crickets included.