Living on the outskirts of our little Maine town, I was uncertain whether to let my 4-year-old son, Ezra, ride home from preschool on the bus. A typically 10-minute drive for me would take 45-minutes for him. Plus he is so little that when he sat on the bus for orientation, the only way to know he was there was by standing in the aisle directly over him.
My anxious mama heart quaked with uncertainty.
What if Ezra fell asleep? What if the driver didn’t realize he was there? What if he ended up half-way to California on the evening news? And yet, the first day I picked up Ezra from school, he was disappointed when I held out my hand to walk to our van.
“Were you hoping to ride the bus?” I asked.
“I wanted to see how the wheels go around,” he said.
Little boy dream, flattened in the dust.
Two weeks later, the guilt was too much. I nervously signed a note for Ezra to ride the bus, planning to use the extra time to work from home. At the last minute, I added a walk, which I cut short to stand at the end of our driveway, watching down our long country road, ears straining for the distant sound of a bus.
When I didn’t hear it, I stood in the middle of the road, looking first one direction and then the other, waiting for my blue-eyed, bus-loving son to appear. More than once, I jogged toward our house to grab the phone and call the school – certain he’d been left behind or lost – only to run back at the approaching sound of an engine. I knew my fears were irrational. Especially since it was still 15 minutes before the bus was scheduled to appear. And yet, this was my son. My youngest child. The one who still held my hand and curled up against my shoulder to read stories on the couch. My whole being ached with the idea that I might lose him.
Another fifteen minutes and my son was officially one-minute late. Once more, I turned toward the house to grab my phone. Receiver in hand, I was half-way back to my post when I was caught off-guard by the sudden rumble of an engine. With Ezra’s small face peering out the window, the bus zoomed past the end of the driveway. I waved my hands, jumping for it to stop. The driver braked hard, backed into a neighbor’s driveway and turned around. And there, stepping down the stairs toward my eagerly awaiting arms, was my son.
Occasionally in life, we glimpse the depth of God’s love in a way that is tangible. Waiting for my son to appear on the bus – certain something dreadful had happened to him, hoping that it hadn’t – gave me a new understanding of the way our heavenly Father watches for us – standing in the middle of the road, ears straining for our approach – eagerly waiting to welcome his children home.
Meadow Rue Merrill, the author of Redeeming Ruth: Everything Life Takes, Love Restores, writes for children and adults from a little house in the big woods of midcoast Maine.