It's funny working in the same building as an energetic child care center. Kids are everywhere, marching up and down stairs, playing in the fellowship hall/gym and stinking up the copy room hallway by late afternoon.
One of these tiny toddlers was the first to welcome me for my first interview last March. I had come through a thick snowfall and opened the dark doors, shaking the snowflakes from my hair. Inside, a train of little people were holding hands and walking from one room to another. A black-haired little girl broke rank and walked right up to me, in awe of the snowy day that blew by as the door closed behind me. "Well, hello there!" she said with pure happiness and welcome in her voice.
Well, hello. I still see her around and she makes me smile - the first of many signs that St. John's would welcome me inside.
This morning I walked through the fellowship hall/gym when the smallest kids were making forts and pretending to be animals. They had their teachers laughing hysterically as they roared like lions. Coming back from my errand, a little one toddled up, pulled up his shirt and pointed to his belly button with proud satisfaction. His words were a pre-English blurb I couldn't decode until a little girl came up beside him. "And I have one too, but yours IS big!" More gibberish followed. "My dad is like is same grandpa too." So cute...but huh?
Others joined, coming out of their forts to check me out. "I have a green ball," one would declare. Then another would approach with their own prop. "My ball purple!" Soon, they were all playing catch with me at once and I laughed, trying to keep up. When my day gets long or I need a smile, I know that these belly buttons have the power to cheer anyone up with a roar or a green ball. So I listen for them coming in the hallways, testing the echo and squealing with joy.