One deep New England winter, while I was enjoying kindergarten, my friend, Erika, came to school smiling wide and waving her tin lunchbox at me.
I am having a movie birthday party, and you are invited!
Being the 1970’s, this was BIG news. There were no VCR’s or DVD players then, and we had exactly three black and white television stations. Somehow Erika’s parents had managed to obtain the brand new Star Wars movie to play via movie projector.
The party was still a few weeks away, and every day while practicing our letters, tying our shoes, or playing on the playground, Erika shared more details.
I shivered with excitement. Everyone knew that she lived in an expansive house, flush with a furnished basement that held walls of shelves, floor to ceiling, filled with toys of all kinds. Her mother was a woodworker, so some of those toys included wooden jigsaw puzzles that their family had created. Another bonus was that Erika’s mother had ordered an enormous Star Wars birthday cake plus prize bags for each guest. I did not know much about Star Wars, but that was okay. It was a thrill to be wanted, to be invited, to plan.
I shared my good news with my parents, who told me this was nice, but Kristin you have not received an invitation, and it would be impolite to call and ask Erika’s mom, in the event that I had not been on the guest list.
So every day leading up to the party, I bundled up in my snowsuit and mittens to cross the street and peek into the mail box. Empty. I was disappointed, but confidant that the letter would come. Erika was my friend.
The BIG day arrived, freezing cold with snow piled deep, but the roads were clear. I checked the mailbox again, and I asked one more time, but the answer remained no. I had not been invited.
In the early evening our phone rang. Erika’s mom spoke, wondering why I had not come to the party? We sent her an invitation weeks ago.
The next Saturday, I dressed up for the birthday party. Erika welcomed me inside, and her mother explained that everything was exactly as it was the first time, except that I was the only special guest this time around. We watched Star Wars, lying in the soft gold shag carpet, elbows propping our faces. Her mom had ordered another huge cake, and there were party favors and chips and root beer. My cheeks ached from smiling.
One of our sons was in a car accident this week. The other driver, who had poor vision, became further blinded by the sun, and hit our son’s car. His vehicle was totaled.
When I received the phone call, my heart thudded, and I waited.
Don’t worry. He is fine. He’s not hurt.
I felt limp; the adrenaline pumping. Moments like these are a tidal wave; rushing in with a roar and decimating the petty things that entangle.
So many people are driving the highway of life with faulty vision. We all get a bit lost every now and again and need help. Yet some people continually cause proverbial car accidents; unwilling to assess the pain they are inflicting. Unwilling to change. After a spell, it becomes easy to see those patterns, endlessly repeating.
It has been over forty years, and I remember the warmth of Erika’s mom. Her vision was clear and wide and different. She busied herself thinking of others, and it sparkled, burning bright for my young heart to see. I was a grateful recipient. It reminded me, even at that young age, of the heart of God: kind, tender, and tenacious in the pursuit of his children.
Weeks after the party was over, the sun heated the snow, gently melting it away. Under our mailbox, soggy but intact, was the invitation. My heart was full.