Monday, August 23, 2010
Sam and Alec were best buds.
If you're a two and three year old, being best buds involves lots of chasing and squealing and knee slapping at jokes that involve a cow and a cookie and no punch line whatsoever.
It means striking Buzz Lightyear poses, side by side. "To Infinity...and Beyond!"
It means hanging tough together on your first days of preschool, when the French teacher keeps talking at you and you have no idea what she's saying.
Alec was the American friend Madame Charbonnier wrote about in Sam's hilarious report card from Toute Petite Section (English translation) : Samuel speaks neither French nor English. He likes to play alone or with the American friend in our class and is not interested in our proposed activities. Perhaps when he gets bigger he will like to work with a group of children.
Just in case you haven't read the book, Sam had a much better year after that.
Sadly for us, though, Alec and his family moved back to the States a year and a half before we did. He and Sam were too young to keep up with each other. No letters, no photos sent across the miles. Alec's family moved all over the place. Denver, then Washington state, and finally to Australia!
This summer we heard rumors that Alec was moving to South Carolina. After three moves in eight years, Alec's family bought a house down the road. Alec and Sam would go to the same middle school!
Alec's mom and I wanted to get the boys together before school started, so that they'd each have an instant friend, but life was hectic and it didn't happen. "We'll try to have Alec over next weekend," I told Sam on the way to his first day of school. "Or maybe you'll see him in the halls. I can just see it now, the two of you running across the PE field, meeting in the middle with a high five, then striking the Buzz Lightyear pose, just for old time's sake."
Sam rolled his eyes. "Hate to break it to you, Mom," he said. "but that's not going to happen."
Truth is, I didn't think it would either. After all, 1000 kids go to Sam's school, and Alec would be a grade ahead anyway. The halls were separate, and even if they did run into each other, it's not like they'd recognize each other after eight years apart.
On day one, Sam found Alec in the mass of kids crowded by the back carpool line!
"Are you Alec?" he asked.
"Uh, yeah. Who are you?"
"I'm Sam, from France. We were best friends."
"Sam! We played Buzz Lightyear together!"
Later, I asked Sam how he recognized Alec in the crowd.
Sam shrugged his shoulders. "I guess we spent so much time together when we were little that his face was still in my brain. You know, he was important, so he stayed in there. Plus, I spent all day looking for him. I knew he was there somewhere and I just wanted to find him. If I hadn't been looking I might not have seen him. But I wanted to, so I did."
For the rest of the week, Sam and Alec hung out together at the carpool line. And for the rest of the week, Sam's explanation hung out in my head.
What was it that mesmerized me so?
I think it rang a familiar soul bell that's been tinkling in the back of my brain: the idea that if we're made in God's image and are children of God, we should be able to recognize the traces of God, the face of God, in each other.
Sometimes that's easy, and other times, with some people, it sure doesn't look like God is in there at all.
But maybe Sam knows the trick. That first, I have to really want to find God in those faces, and second, I have to spend more time looking.
Thank you, God, for old friends and renewed friendships. Thank you, too, that as you breathed the first breaths of love into each of us, you left behind traces of Yourself. Help us recognize Your face in each other.
When do you tend to see God in the face of another? I'd love to hear about it!
Have a wonder-full Monday, y'all!
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
PS. Guess who came home from school with us on Friday!