We were sitting in a circle having a chat with some dear people the other night while a cute baby with beautiful, bright eyes played on the rug in front of us. He was wearing a bright red sleeper, the all-in-one neck-to-toe kind, but the sleeper was having a hard time keeping up with the busy little body within. It sort of stuck to the rug as the baby inched his way forward. The toe and foot compartments, left flat and empty by the baby's forward movement, followed along obediently. Whenever the baby lay down or roll over, the empty sleeper toes twisted and flopped nonsensically. This attracted the attention of a cute little puppy that was romping on the rug as well. At 6 weeks old, the puppy was cute as a button and small as a bug. He had been minding his own business until the jerking motion of the floppy red fabric caught his eye. That was about the point in time when we were called to prayer. As I closed my eyes, I noticed the baby headed my direction with the puppy in hot pursuit of the red cloth trailing behind him. I only closed my eyes momentarily in compliance with the group, but opened them again quickly in order to intervene in what was coming.
The baby got to me quickly and I reached down to help him stand just as the puppy caught up. The baby turned and took a playful swipe at the puppy, and the movement made one of the empty sleeper toes flip tauntingly. This was too much for the puppy and as he poised to pounce on it, I hoisted the baby up. I wasn't quick enough though and the puppy caught the tip of the empty sleeper toe firmly between his teeth. I didn't want a tug of war to ensue, so I lowered the baby and tried to "shoo" the puppy away from his new toy. He relaxed his grip a bit and I lifted the baby again. But that puppy was quick on the uptake and grabbed the sleeper tip before it got away. I decided to set the baby on my knee so I could free one hand for dealing with the persistent puppy. But as I lifted the baby higher, the sleeper fabric stretched, and that stretching brought out the puppy's reflex to lock all 4's, pull backward with all his might, and swing his head from side to side like only a determined dog will do. The baby's mom, sitting next to me, stifled a snicker. Everyone else managed to ignore the circus and kept on praying. Thankfully I managed to lean over and pry the puppy's jaws open quickly and release the now fairly stretched empty sleeper toe. I pulled the sleeper toe and leg back into proper position on the baby and tried to bounce him quietly on my lap. But he was too far into the game by then and was reaching and kicking for the puppy on the floor--who by then had moved on to chewing on my purse's strap. Seeing the puppy was distracted, I decided to try and set the baby on the rug again to crawl. But as I did so, the puppy bounded toward the baby again and the baby's eyes sparkled with delight! I quickly pulled the baby back to myself and realized this wasn't going to be an easy game to quit. People were still praying (somehow) so I decided the best policy was to hand baby off to mommy. Thankfully that settled things down for a while so I could put in at least a few moments of earnest prayer.
That's what life is like. Some moments don't have a "stop goofing off now--this is serious" button. And that is probably what saves our sanity. I'm sure glad God hears our hearts either way.
Paul, we miss you. And these and many other fun and fond moments like them remind us of you. We will see you again one day.