A couple of times a day, The Little One peeks around corners and under things and wonders aloud,
She plays a cosmic hide-and-seek game all alone, turning over Matchbox cars and lifting rug corners. "God?" she says, eyebrows furled, "God?"
She glances around the room and below the dining table, between chair cushions and chair bases, under couch pillows, in clothing drawers. She traces peasant faces with her fingers on the toile tablecloth.
"Is this God, Mama?"
"God is in your heart, honey girl," I say, but her eyes droop at the answer. She wants something tangible. She believes He's here somewhere, an ant below a Matchbox car, a pale-faced shepherd in a fabric pattern on the dining table. She wants to touch, to find… to lock eyes with Him.
I let her play the game over and over and I don't step in until she directs the question at me. I don't intervene with her hide-and-seek game because I might be surprised at what she finds. Because I'm playing my own grown-up version in my own grown-up heart.
And I look high and low, deep and hard. I look for God, for grace incarnate. I look in the dishes, in the laundry, in the tangled bedsheets and peanut butter sandwiches.
Where's God when my husband is away, when I'm overwhelmed, when the kids need more than I can give? Is He looking back at me from the toile tablecloth that I wipe down a dozen times a day? In the medicine bottles? The dirty barbeque?
I look in the pile of bills, the cat dish, the sunset. I look in the eyes of my babies and the bookshelf in the hall.
I play my own hide and seek game with God, and it is daily.
"Come out, come out, wherever you are," I murmur. "Olly, olly, oxen free!"
It's a cry of gratitude, a cry of trust. A cry of faith and truth and a bare naked heart.
And there He is.
Under a Matchbox car, in the laundry bin, beneath the toile tablecloth. In the eyes of all these babies and inside my own crumpled heart. He's right there, in plain sight, for those willing to look.
I have looked and I have seen. There He is, and He grips my heart again. I'm caught.
I'm it now, I suppose.
And if I'm it, in this hide-and-seek game where God peeks around corners of His world, will He find me? Will I be there? Will I be about my Father's business or will I be consumed by my own? Will I be found in the eyes of these babies, in my work in this world, or will He have to search below and between for me, calling my name to find me hiding from it?
Olly, olly, oxen free.