Gum Balls

The little boy’s excitement was palpable. He bolted from his mother’s side and approached the array of gum ball machines at full tilt before braking abruptly just inches from the display. He studied his choices with wonderment, running his hand slowly over the glass as if some Divine guidance was forthcoming through his fingertips.

I studied him as discreetly as possible from my place in the checkout line. I remembered that feeling from many years past… and smiled.

But something else held my attention. The child’s face was badly scarred, no doubt from severe burns. He was also missing part of an arm below the elbow.

I couldn’t squelch the sadness that came over me in a wave. I thought about how hard it is to be different, how cruel and superficial the world can be. I wondered about his future and the courage and character he would need to survive. I hoped he would know unconditional love, acceptance (from others and from himself), tenderness, peace.

I knew that I would likely never see this child again; and, though my heart was deeply moved, I really had no right to project about his future. Almost certainly there would be struggles, but I also believe in grace, amazing grace.

Whatever the years ahead might bring, for that blessed moment, he was just a little boy in front of some gum ball machines, his heart racing as he considered where to insert his precious coin.

6 thoughts on “Gum Balls

  1. Ernest and Sharon Chace

    Have been thinking about this blog for several days. Seems to me that empathy is a kind of prayer that might heal in unexplainable ways.

    Reply
    1. sdalton43 Post author

      Sharon: That is an interesting insight. Empathy and prayer, especially intercessor prayer, do seem intimately related. So, if one believes in the power of prayer, it makes sense also to believe in the power of empathy. Blessings, my friend!

      Reply
      1. Ernest and Sharon Chace

        Expanding my thinking. Empathy, many prayers and sometimes the intensity of poetry writing have the shared characteristic of focus. Focus may lead to who knows where.

      2. sdalton43 Post author

        Hopefully it leads us closer to God, my friend. I’m certain that your poetry blesses your readers in just that way. Take care! – Steve

  2. Jocelyn

    Dear Steve,

    Thanks for sharing. Who doesn’t love a gumball!?! I have a small gumball machine that my siblings and I gave to my grandparents when we were little. We found pennies and were able to use it with permission for a special gumball. I had the machine in all of the offices I have had for ministry, but since the pandemic and my position being cut, and now without an office working remotely, I just keep my gumball machine in my closet among my sweatshirts and suitcase.

    I have a zoom meeting once a month with a colleague with a free-standing gumball machine in the background. HMMM any suggestions?

    Thank you for sharing- I can picture this boy. Reminds me of the burn unit at the children’s hospital I visited in Jamaica. It breaks your heart when you hear kids scream in pain. And yet the hope of healing!

    Peace my friend, Jocelyn

    On Sun, Jun 6, 2021 at 11:45 AM Musings Amid the Thorns wrote:

    > sdalton43 posted: ” The little boy’s excitement was palpable. He bolted > from his mother’s side and approached the array of gum ball machines at > full tilt before breaking abruptly just inches from the display. He studied > his choices with wonderment, running his hand slowly o” >

    Reply
    1. sdalton43 Post author

      Jocelyn, it is always wonderful to hear from you, but I am saddened to learn that your position has been cut. Is there any hope of it being restored now that the worst of the pandemic seems to have passed? I will be praying for you!

      It’s heartwarming to know that you have a love for gumball machines. They are such a staple from childhood. I hope they never disappear. Thank you for doing your part to keep the tradition alive.

      As for the little boy, I think of him often and hope/trust that God is holding him close to God’s heart.

      Blessings always!
      Steve

      Reply

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