Snacks at our house are served in small glass Pyrex bowls. That and baby food and cereal and anything else that needs to be consumed. They’ve also been used to serve cheerios to pet ants in the backyard and make a perfect bed for my daughter’s small, white beanie-baby kitten.
We have almost ten of these bowls now and go through nearly all of them on a daily basis. When the twins are old enough to take part in the great American tradition of sitting in front of the TV with a snack in hand we will go through even more of these bowls.
The other day I ordered four more from Amazon, thinking we’d stock up, but I accidentally ordered the wrong size – 6oz, not 10. One morning I served my four year old his cereal in one of these new bowls and he noticed the difference in size right away.
“Mom, this bowl shrank! How did it shrink?!”
I couldn’t resist telling him that I had done it. I wove an elaborate tale about how I was very tired because shrinking bowls was hard work and I’d stayed up all night to do it.
His questions abounded, “How did you do it? Can you shrink more?”
“No, only four – it’s very hard work,” I reply.
“Did you put them in hot water?” “Can you shrink me?”
Later, on the way to school, he commented from the back of the van, “Boy, you must be really tired if you stayed up all night shrinking bowls.”
He questions everything, but not the idea that it can be done because for him there’s no reason it can’t be done. There’s also no reason for him to think he won’t be a jungle explorer when he grows up (along with the whole family, and my job will be to stay back at the hut with the babies!) or dig a hole big enough for us all to live in on our next trip to Grandpa’s house (my job, he says, will be to stay at the top and make sure it doesn’t fall in on everyone else).
He’s too young to have learned the laws of physics which declare that glass bowls can’t shrink (thought they do break!). Too young to separate with clear lines the possible from the impossible.
* * * * * *
On a recent Sunday morning I met a new couple at church who asked, in getting to know me, “Do you have kids?” My reply to such questions until now has been something like, “We have two kids, six and four, and then we also have twins.” Splitting them up this way seems to make it sound more sane, less the impossible reality that it is. But for the first time I replied without qualifying, “I have four kids.”
* * * * * *
I wander around the house these days, treading water, trying to stay afloat while crunching layers of cheerios under my feet and endlessly ferrying dirty glass bowls from one room to another.
I tell myself I’m the least likely candidate to be in charge of what feels like a small daycare. I think to myself, “This is not me. This is not possible. How can I be a mother of four kids?”
* * * * * *
Children don’t know the difference between what is and isn’t possible. Maybe this is part of what Jesus meant when he said we should become as little children if we’re going to be able to enter into the kingdom of God. The kingdom where the lines between possible and impossible and all the other polar opposites we think the world depends on are so deeply blurred.
God is doing something strange here at my house, something no less amazing than shrinking glass bowls. God works late into the night – taking my tiny heart, my too small life and cracking it open. It’s very hard work you see. With human hearts it’s two steps forward, one step back. As the muscle contracts God reaches out, yet again, to pry it open. But I’m learning to lean into the expansion, to believe in the impossible and say with Mary, “Let it be unto me . . .”
God, make me, make all of us, like a little child so we can live into the impossible things that you have made possible.
I'd love to hear about the impossible things God is doing and has done in your life . . .