This story is such a vague memory I almost can't recall the details of hearing it.
But the story, I'll never forget.
I do remember sitting in the living room when I first heard it, watching TV in the rented house I shared with my first husband, a drafty wooden one-story with a giant single-pane glass window that looked onto Delaware Drive in San Mateo. I know I was in that house because I remember the gold velveteen of the borrowed sofa underneath me. I kept petting the prickly nap of the cheap fabric as I prayed nervously, desperately, after hearing the story. Back in those days, I didn't pray much, but I did that night.
We still had the 19-inch vacuum tube TV; flat screens hadn't been invented yet. My new baby daughter was in bed, baby monitor on, my son not yet born or thought of. Not sure where my husband was - just that he wasn't there. The show, I don't remember.
I haven't seen or heard the story since, except when I have told it, and again today when I looked for it on the web. I found it in the sermon notes of a Mr. Tad Pound, who told it in an Epiphany series at San Gabriel the Archangel Episcopal Church in New Mexico not long ago. It's from Chicken Soup for the Soul, turns out, told by Dan Millman, about a little girl named Sachi.
I love the web. It's kind of a miracle. Connects all the threads of our lives that would otherwise be loose at the ends, and frayed. Now back to my story.
So here goes. On the TV show, a mother was telling it, as if it were her story. Maybe it was.
Sachi's mother was about to have her second child. Every day the toddler would put her head against mom's tummy and ask to speak to the baby. Please, can't he come out and talk to me? Then he can go right back in. OK?
Not possible, baby. You'll see him soon.
After the baby was born, Sachi begged to be left alone with her new brother in the nursery, just for a few seconds. Her parents were hesitant, fearing she might poke or scratch the baby, or try to pick him up and drop him, even if she was well intended. Still, they had a baby monitor hooked up, so they decided to let her go in alone.
Once inside, it only took her a second or two to ask her question: Can you tell me about God? I'm starting to forget.
Now, you may have heard this before, and therefore discount it as a cute urban legend, or let it go by in the background like white noise. Like the starfish story. Heard that. Got the T-shirt.
Even Snopes, that venerable website that debunks legends, has written about Sachi. Snopes says that there are lots of tales of toddlers professing to have seen or smelled or been held by God, but that there is no proof that it is God whom they saw or smelled or touched.
Whatever. What this is, is a mustard seed. And frankly, I believe it all, Sachi, and the baby brother, and almost forgetting about the God she remembers, because she saw Him.
Why do I believe it? Because I have asked Him many times to show me, as He said I should do, and He has kept his promise to back up my mustard seed with a whole jar of mustard. Therefore I have tasted and seen the mustard again and again, and it is good.
Try it. Asking Him to show you, that is. I tried it the day I heard about Sachi, and it was good. It hasn't been good every day, but the goodness has rippled out in ever escalating levels of goodness, one layer at a time, as only the Master Conductor could orchestrate it.
In fact, He never fails to remind me He is God, if I remember to ask. Sometimes it's in little ways. Like today, when I was looking for the Sachi story. One of the places I found it was on an Angelfire site called Our Family Page, created by a family in Texas who has taken in several children. On Our Family Page, Sachi's page is decorated with Precious Moments pictures of a little warrior holding up a sword, his face adorned with a criss-cross bandage, covering his heart with a shield.
When my almost-soon-to-be-second husband was nearly killed in a bicycle accident about ten years ago - seven bones broken, one punctured lung - that very same Precious Moments warrior was painted on the wall in the room where he lay for ten days, oxygen tubes and morphine and all. It was in the old hospital on 13th Street in Merced, which has since been replaced by a sparkling new hospital on the north side of town. So the mural is probably gone, unless they one day rescue it from the wrecking ball when that time comes.
That mural was painted there by one of the surviving sisters of a horrible crime in the Weaver District of Merced County, created in homage to her 7-year-old brother John who had been murdered with a pitchfork while he slept. A naked crazed man had charged into their home while the oldest girl was babysitting the other three. He was attacking them one by one, goring whoever he could corner.
In the next cubicle was an homage to nine-year old Ashley, a praying angel, who had courageously thrown herself at the killer, screaming, "Get off my sister!" That's when he turned on her, running her through. Ashley perished in that cubicle. Only the two elder sisters made it; the oldest married last year. They're Gospel Defenders. They know the soul survives.
The presence of those babies was still tangible as my husband lay there; the gratitude for flames that had burned short but well, still tangible. God had come to cover them there in those cubicles, and it was clear while I sat vigil that He hadn't left. He was there to cover me, so much less deserving. So much less in need, yet so much less grateful, even as I was. Still, He covered me, as He covered my unconscious husband, for whom He had already sent a passing EMT, complete with ambulance, who happened to be crossing the remote country road at the exact moment when he went down, reviving him in time to live another day.
So bring Him your mustard seed. It doesn't take much. If you are starting to forget, then remember to remember, and just ASK. He'll show you, in a million ways large or small. He'll never fail, His word on that.