Michelle Martin

Promises, promises

Sunday, September 23, 2012

At the end of the day, when it's time for Teresa to go to bed, we follow our evening routine: bath, pajamas, brushing teeth, books, prayers.

As we wind down and she gets tired and dozy, we finish it off by asking what she wants to say thank you to God for, and she always gives the same answer: Nana Phyllis's house (her babysitter) and candy.

Then she mumbles the same request: "Door open sleep?"

And I answer the same way: Of course I'll leave the door open while she sleeps.

Lately, she's added another thing: "Kitchen light on?"

And I say yes, I'll leave the kitchen light on.

More and more, she's asking questions about what is going to happen — usually in the very near future. In the morning, she wants to know if it's a Nana Phyllis day or a home day. Then she wants to know if we can go to the beach, or, failing that, the playground. She wants to know if we are going to paint, or watch "Curious George" or make pancakes.

Most of the time, she's not too upset if the answer is no, especially if I can tell her what we'll do instead. It's lucky she likes to watch her older brother and sister play sports and perform, and even just to go pick them up, because we do a lot of that.

But if I tell her we are going to do something, woe to me if I don't make it happen. Especially if I or someone else forgets she wants her bedroom door open and closes it.

I notice it, I think, because she's just developing the language skills to ask questions about the future, to understand what it means when her daddy or I tell her something is going to happen. But the desire to know what's coming next is universal.

I know that I like to know how my day will play out, and if someone tells me they will do something for me or with me, I get frustrated if it doesn't happen. I'd like to think I'm better than Teresa at understanding why plans sometimes change; I'm not 2, after all.

It makes me think of the people who predict the end of the world, who think God has given them inside information on the timing of the apocalypse. Are they disappointed when the sun keeps rising and setting?

Jesus was pretty clear when he said that no one would know when the end of the world is coming: he said it in parables and he said it plainly.

But Jesus also told us what our ultimate end will be, when he told us that he was going ahead to prepare a place in God's kingdom. He also told us pretty clearly how to respond to that invitation, in Matthew 25.

So while my days might be unpredictable — there's nothing like a child with the stomach flu to upend any schedule you thought you had — my faith tells me that my ultimate end is in the hands of God.

And for Teresa, I'll leave the kitchen light on.