Maddy* is a charmer — four years old, articulate, and wise. For a full day I was under her spell. We painted our nails, made ridiculous words with Scrabble tiles, and ate watermelon.
Then she asked, “Do you want to go chalking?”
I couldn’t resist. We gathered broken bits of sidewalk chalk and ventured onto the back patio in 90 degree heat. At first we scraped the chalk against the weathered concrete creating pale lines in the aggregate stone. Then Maddy realized we weren’t making progress as quickly as she wanted to so we filled a pan with water and dunked the chalk into the water, turning pink to deep rose and lavender to a heavenly purple. We transformed my mother’s patio into a trendy mosaic of brightly colored hearts, flowers, polka dots, squiggles and squirmy things. We were both joyful and completely transfixed by our task.
At birth Maddy was called a “miracle baby.” Her umbilical cord had never properly formed and, in utero, Maddy was connected to her mother by a string of veins, arteries and capillaries, a medical anomaly. News quickly spread in the hospital where she was born and soon medical professionals from all specialties stood over her and stared. Maddy is my brother’s granddaughter, my great-niece, so our family knows we are blessed that they are both with us.
My brother repeatedly shares one of his favorite stories of Maddy.
A few months ago she asked, “Do you remember when I was little?”
He answered, “Of course I do. The doctors saved you and your momma.”
Without hesitation she added, “Do you remember that God was in my head?”
My brother was flabbergasted. His four-year old granddaughter remembers when God was in her head!
What does she mean by this?
Maddy has a keen awareness of her connection to God. No one taught her this. She didn’t need Sunday School or lessons from the Bible to know that she is of God. She was born knowing and because of her upbringing has a reference with which to talk about God.
In the Bible when Jesus tells his followers that “whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it” (Mark 10:15), he is advising them (and us) to return to a state of innocence, to a place in our hearts where complete faith and openness to Spirit can thrive.
I practiced this while chalking with Maddy. As we colored my mother’s back patio, I sat in meditative play as if I was four years old. All judgement set aside, I listened to the childlike voice that rose in me and soon a peacefulness spread and I began to relax in both body and mind. I easily slipped into the game and found a moment of bliss, a simple version of heaven on earth.
Later that same day Maddy melted into tears when her mother asked her to change into her tee-ball uniform. In most ways she is a typical four year old. Yet in others she is our teacher. If we can believe as she does, we, too, can know that God is in our heads. We can begin to understand that our true nature resides in Spirit, not in body.
Sadly her memory of this may dissipate with time just like it has for most of us. But, for now Maddy is a fresh reminder that we are born into this world in pure innocence, in Spirit, and as long as we keep God in our heads, we’ll be alright.
* Name changed for privacy