"Take a picture of me hugging a tree!" he asks before wrapping arms around the biggest oak in our yard. I had brought out the camera to only capture images of happy children diving into big leaf oak leaves piled high for the crunching. But I drop right knee in the dust anyway and click the shutter twice.
I notice the pink flushed cheeks from afternoon play in the cold north wind, the shadow of brown earth under his fingernails, the uneven bangs growing out from his attempt to give his own hair cut .
And I notice his smile, not because I just spent the last half hour raking and re-raking leaves for their enjoyment but because I've taken a few seconds to listen to him, to take this shot.
Finished, he jumps towards the house for our afternoon reading time where our pattern is taking turns--I read a book, he reads a book. He listens. I listen.
I've been hitting my head against a brick wall since before Christmas with Wyatt not listening to me. He hears, can even usually repeat it back to me verbatim. But hearing is not listening.
And then this past Sunday night, Wyatt listened. Listened well.
For the past four months, I have explained to Wyatt why he cannot participate in communion with our church family, why he cannot break the wafer with the cross imprinted on it, why he cannot have the "juice" in tiny cups.
Yet, each time the deacons pass around the body and blood, I tuck my head towards his in whispers to explain anew. One day, when he chooses to give his heart forever to serve and love Jesus--then he can join mommy and daddy.
I thought perhaps he was just too young to understand or too upset over being denied what he perceives as treats to understand...or his usual hearing without listening.
As the service ended, our pastor offered an invitation, said "I want to ask you a question. Is there anyone here who has never become a Christian, a child of God?"
Instantly, my son's hand shot skyward. He was raising his hand to say yes, that described him. Face flushed with embarrassment, I quickly reached to yank his hand down, but even as I did, my heart felt the pang, knowing he was being truthful.
Even when he seems to not be listening, he is taking it all in, working the complexities of God out to understand his need for a Savior.
While I'm not one for a long list of annual resolutions, I do like to name the new year with one word, one that describes where I think God is leading me in the seasons ahead. Last year was a year of putting down roots. The year before, I felt the promise of God's restoration.
I entered 2012 with no notion of what God was speaking to me. In all honesty, I could hardly hear His whisper through my struggles at the tail end of 2011. Yet, through these and a few more God-incidences, God has been beating His own head against a wall, trying to get me to see that like my son, I also need to work on listening--to my children, my husband, my friends, and Him.
In 2012, I am opening my ears.