I was putting my four year old daughter to sleep one night and after tucking her in and giving her a hug and kiss, I told her: “Now close your eyes and go to sleep, Sugarplum.”
In answer, she said: “Dad, you need to tell me stories for me to be able to close my eyes.”
So I smiled, and obliged. I gave her a story of Robin Hood and his magical adventures in Sherwood Forest. This is our usual story-telling paradigm. The kids pick something magical that Robin Hood should discover in Sherwood Forest, such as the magic fish, or the magic bird of Ulalongalo (the story audience is still comprised primarily of pre-schoolers), and then I weave a story of how the magic discovery aids Robin Hood in foiling Prince John’s wily machinations. The stories always conclude with Robin Hood winning gold and jewels that he then gives to the poor orphans and widows of Nottingham.
So I told a tail of Robin Hood’s daring exploits, and upon reaching the treasure at tale’s end, I gave my daughter another kiss and told her: “Now you close your little eyes and get some sleep, Honey Dumpling.”
She answered: “One eye is closed, now I need another story for the other eye.”
I laughed, and couldn’t resists the request. It was just too cute. That, and also, it had a certain buoyant cheerfulness, like a skip in the step of the soul, that I felt had to be honored and encouraged.
For little people and big people alike, life is full of discouragements and disappointments, cares and concerns, and it can be easy to find our spirits flagging under all those weights of worry that pile up day after day.
But God tells us: “Be not crushed . . . as though I would leave you crushed . . .” Jer 1, 17.
God reminds us: “. . . I am with you to deliver you . . .” Jer 1, 19.
So we should have a bounce in our step, always on the lookout for God to lift us up when burdens start to press us down. And we can help each other keep a twinkle in our eyes, through a word of encouragement, a smile, a treat after school, or maybe a story at bedtime (even when we should already have both eyes closed). Little things like that go a long way to keep spirits up. And spreading those seeds of kindness and good cheer for others help to cultivate the habit of hopefulness in ourselves, so that when our own cares start to weigh heavy we’ll remember to keep at least one eye open and on the lookout for the signs of hope that God will surely send our way.
Copyright 2016 Jake Frost
About the Author
Jake Frost is an attorney, husband, and father of four grade-school aged kids. He’s the author of five books: Catholic Dad: (Mostly) Funny Stories of Faith, Family, and Fatherhood; Catholic Dad 2: More (Mostly) Funny Stories of Faith, Family, and Fatherhood; From Dust to Stars: Poems by Jake Frost; Victory! Poems by Jake Frost; and a children’s book he also illustrated called The Happy Jar.