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.