The Shift

by SJL

There were eight children on the front porch, all dirty, all with ragged clothes. The mother held the newborn baby as the disheveled family watched my approach. As I looked around at the poorly maintained home, I thought, What a mess! This house, the deck, the yard, everything should just be bulldozed. There is no way this place could be fixed.

In my profession as a teacher of special needs children, one aspect of my job was to visit the families of my students on a monthly/bi-monthly basis. This particular afternoon, I visited the home of Noah.

To the staff that worked with the family, Noah’s parents appeared incapable of adequately caring for their children. The mother did not work, and the father had a low-paying night job of stocking grocery shelves.

The most common consensus that I heard from the staff was that the Children and Youth Agency should be notified so that they could get involved.

The day I arrived at Noah’s house, I saw that his mother and all the children were on the front deck, enjoying the sunshine. The deck and yard were strewn with toys for all the different ages of the children.

The first thing that happened was that all the children ran to the car to greet me warmly. I was still reeling from the disarray I saw everywhere I looked.

I noticed that Noah’s mother paid attention to each of the children whenever they addressed her. Well, she loves them, I thought. That should account for something.

She and I started a conversation. We talked about Noah’s progress at school and ways that she could reinforce his learning at home. Our conversation was fluid and engaging, and I found myself sincerely enjoying being with her and her children.

Then, without fanfare of any kind, the entire scene shifted. Everything became as if it was made of light. The house, yard, children—everything was glowing with an inward light. Love permeated everything! Noah’s mother was cradling her newborn, and she looked to me as Madonna and child. Everything that had looked to me so dismal and bleak turned into a scene of transcendent beauty. The love that was everywhere filled me up, and the only thing I could think was, This must be the Kingdom of God.

“Christ’s eyes are open, and He will look upon whatever you see with love if you accept His vision as yours.” (T-12.VIII.4:5)