This began a few months ago. The whole "Jonah and the Whale" thing fascinated him. So for Easter we got him a little Bible. Most kids who grew up in the church have had one of these little Bibles. You know, with the cartoonish-looking characters and the abbreviated (and often necessarily sanitized) stories?
Ethan picks stories to "read" in his Bible according to their pictures. So Jonah is popular, and the guys in the fiery furnace, and Jesus calming the storm, and the part at the very end that shows a golden shining chair surrounded by rainbows in heaven.
"That's God's chair!" Ethan always announces, since I informed him just what the picture was supposed to be depicting.
The other day we were flipping through the Bible and Ethan was asking me to read various stories. On the very last page of the Bible is a page with just Jesus, drawn in his typical Jesus way (the robe, the sandals, the beard), smiling.
"He's looking at you!" I said to Ethan, knowing what that would mean to him. Ethan will often walk by the giant ads of people in Target or even at the newscaster on TV and say the same thing. "He's looking at me!" He'll be almost shy about it, in a sweetly egocentric way. Yes Ethan, the woman in the huge poster near the beauty products at Target is indeed looking right at you, only you, and urging you to purchase some mascara.
This time though, this time, I knew his assumption was right in its own way. "God always sees me," he's been taught, and so I didn't think it was so bad to say that cartoon Jesus was looking right at him.
I didn't expect what happened next.
"Hey Jesus, you know what?"
Ethan started a conversation.
"Jesus, we went on a trip and we went on a boat and a train. Jesus? Would you like to go on a trip with us?" he asked eagerly.
"Jesus, I did my show upstairs [dancing to the radio in his room]. Jesus, next time you're going to come to my show."
This boy who struggles most mightily in interacting with his peers, who gets speech therapy to learn how to initiate and sustain conversation, was talking as freely and easily with Jesus, as if he'd known him forever.
"Hey Jesus, you know what?"
As he chattered I thought about the scriptures about having a childlike faith, about approaching the kingdom of God like a child.
I thought that this is the way God wishes to talk to all of us.
I thought about the way we change and grow, and not necesarily in a good way. Our conversations with God are stilted...cut off by cynicism and mistrust...or dressed up by pretense.
Yet really, God is most of all just looking for a simple conversation, from a heart that trusts that He does indeed hear and really does care, about all of it.
Even the dance party in Ethan's room at 6:30 a.m.
or are you feeling better?
Hey Jesus, will you come play with me?
Im ready and willing.
Won't you come...
down, down, down, down to the ground.
To the next to me place
with a smile on my face
and a song in my ear