I'll scratch your back
(After the 8 yo raced through a rote bedtime prayer)
Me: Is there anything else you'd like to say to God? Maybe ask God to help with something?
8 yo: I need my back scratched.
Me: You want God to scratch your back?
8 yo: (Laughing) Yeah, God why aren't you scratching my back?
Me: (Starts scratching his back) Well, maybe God sent me to love you and care for you and scratch your back for you.
8 yo: Wait, is God moving your hands? Can you feel Him doing it?
I need to get my 8-year-old a back scratcher because that kid begs for it every night. I don't mind, most of the time. He's nearly 9 and an introvert by nature; he's not necessarily a big snuggler and I'm getting less cool by the minute. So if we wants his back scratched, I'm here for it, because then I get to be close to him and feel his body relax next to mine. There's nothing like a good back scratch.
I have told him to do it himself, sometimes, when I'm busy or too tired. But it's just not as good when you do it on yourself. You need someone else to get that spot between the shoulder blades, or to fully relax into the experience. Years ago I bought one of those long-handled back brushes, a decent alternative, but still not quite as good as someone scratching it for you.
Metaphor for the life, anyone?
I remember, as a child, being puzzled about how God did things in this world. Did God send down power through some sort of laser beam of love? Were there Jesus gremlins? Angels arranging parking spaces? I understood that Jesus could heal and embrace people while on earth, but what kind of presence and power did the rest of us get?
What we get is each other, the only way God has to physically work in this world (though lasers of love sound cool). We see the love of God in the embrace of a friend or when she drops off a gift or a sends a supportive text when we're having a hard time. We notice God in acts of charity and work for justice, like packing food boxes at a pantry or writing letters to Congress to support policies that help alleviate child poverty. We feel the love of God in when someone sits quietly beside us as we cry, when someone forgives us, when a parent comforts us, when a child thanks us, when someone scratches our back. God is working through all kinds of people, young and old, of every race and nation and orientation. Love knows no boundaries. Love is from God. Love is God.
My 8-year-old wanted to know if God would scratch his back. Yes! Through some miracle, that Presence comes through me, just as it flows through you, dear reader, to those whom you love.