The two sisters challenged me playfully, with bright eyes, as I walked closer. (They were barely taller than my knees).
Sister #1 looked like she was planning something, and had a serious stare. Her pink shirt feigned sweetness, but I could see the plan of attack, like a kindergarten Nerf war, in her eyes (the way mine used to look).
Sister #2 had pig tails that were fuller and more fluffy than my own hair; hers was the color of salted caramel brownies. And her warm smile paired perfectly with the blue sky.
Their similarly cocoa skin was like hot chocolate during an ice storm.
Sister #1, who I'll call Lady Pebbles, balanced a rock in her hand; she held her serious stare to challenge my confused, baffled and yet amused face. Sister #2, who I'll call Superwoman Kangaroo (Super Kanga for short), saw the planning in Lady Pebbles' eyes—and she wasted no time.
Before Lady Pebbles could move, Super Kanga hopped between her sister and I, shielding me with her arms on her hips, standing in front her sister and the threatening rock.
Turning her head, Super Kanga spoke to Lady Pebbles; "No, no, now; don't throw it at the lady." She said it with a smile that snuck through her gapped teeth--they were the kind of gaps which tell you that innocence hasn't yet been lost, and still has room to breathe.
I held back laughs as I passed, a little confused and a little uneasy; Lady Pebbles had been staring me down since I got close enough for her to do so. I was hyper aware of the stone in her hand, walking and listening closely for any movement.
But nothing was thrown (except playful smirks and sugary silence).
I turned my head for the final time, still a little uneasy (waiting for something to hit my head, or leg.
And just as quick as I turned my head, Super Kanga blurted and waved:
"Hey! Bu-bye Princess!"
She said it in a happy rush, as if she was worried I'd get too far to hear, or that i would disappear. The pint-sized chocolate girl waved her hand and wrist. She did it as if we'd been elementary school friends meeting as business colleagues years later.
There was a seriousness to her silly--as if it had purpose, and she knew.
Lady Pebbles seemed to forget the planned stone-assault, and began her own private dance, moving her limbs in a fast, ungraceful manner, the way that kids sometimes do; unaware and unassuming that anyone may care or offend at their haphazard movements (she was a baby horse galloping).
I laughed a "goodbye" and waved happily back.
Today has been a good day amidst a string of difficult weeks. The sun was out (all day), the temperature was 88 degrees with a breeze (low humidity), my body felt sound, and my heart felt free....or freer at least.
Recently, I have been on the lookout for stones. One from the left, grazing my head and breaking skin; another from the right, connecting with a bruise. Spiritually, physically, and emotionally I've been trying to shield my soul and body from stones--to the point that the stress and suffocation of shielding becomes enveloping. You begin not only to shield yourself from the bad, but also from the good.
Because we expect stones.
3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst 4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5 Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” 6 This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” John 8 : 3 - 11
Super Kanga stood between Lady Pebbles and I. She shielded me and said "No" to her tiny stone-ready sibling. And to top it off, as I walked away, she even blurted out the kind of theological identity you can't always find on Sundays.
"Hey! Bu-bye Princess!"
And through her gapped teeth and crooked smile, she rushed to say it--before I walked too far away to hear; before other voices called me something else; before fear called me nothing at all.
She called me "Princess". And I was struck, making my way to Union Station in a freer state than I had felt in past weeks.
Because I couldn't help but feel like The Lord was reminding me—beyond the chasm of fear and doubt and judgment and others' acceptance: I was His.
Princess; Daughter; Child; Beloved.
Today I was washed clean, once again, with the Lord's bestowing of identity in me; not the depraved, or lost, or questioned, not pious or doctrinally-sound enough--but I was Princess.
She said her words and waved before I got too far away; she shielded me; she made sure I could hear, and then she acknowledged me.
And so does He.