Her dark eyes danced with anticipation as she bounced in front of me, her nose maybe a millimeter from mine. "Is it out yet? Where is it? Where'd you put it?" she demanded, then began lisitng all the places it wasn't or couldn't be. Meanwhile, her housemate crawled around all fours looking under all the living room furniture.
The object of the search?
A red mailbox.
Every year at the teen program I work for, I hide this small red mailbox in various places around the house the week or two leading up to Valentine's Day. Each day it contains a different gift of love for the girls who live with me. Somedays a note or maybe some candy or perfume or nail polish. Little things usually, whatever will fit. Small tokens of the great love I feel for them and gentle reminders that I'm not the only one who does. This little box has drawn each girl, no matter how sullen she might be on an ordinary day, to look forward to this small part of her day with delight. No question is too silly, no place beyond search. Teamwork emerges as they work together to find it, then rivalry ensues to open it first. The gifts are stashed in rooms or cupboards to be returned to again and again over the next weeks. Sometimes the candy is gone in a day, sometimes it is put on display. One year I did a puzzle. One side a collage, the other scriptures referencing love. This will be the second Valentine's Day here for one of our residents. I think it was the end of January when I began to be reminded almost daily that I needed to find my mailbox and get ready. Out came her puzzle from last year and the legend was retold with great detail to the newest member of our house. All the popluar hiding places were revealed and the anticipation began.
Both girls leave early tomorrow morning to spend the weekend with their families, so I just hid it for the last time this year....in the stove drawer with all the pot lids.......shhhhh!!!
Suddeny I found myself thinking about looking for love. It's not a surprise really with the number of times a day I see advertising on how to be successful in my personal search. I paused in my hurry to accomplish the next thing on my to do list for today and took a moment to breathe in the rush of peace that I don't have to look under all the furniture or bang my shins climbing up to look in remote places for love. It is extravagantly displayed right in front of me. All around me.
I have spent plenty of my 30 years looking in all the wrong places, don't get me wrong. Most of them much more fruitless than under the sofa. My gaze is still too easily torn away from the only person worth my deepest affections. I replace Jesus too often with lesser things. But He has caused me to know the truth and I no longer have to look. There is, after, all no question about the love of someone who dies for you.