By Susan Stewart
I am posting this from the Sheraton Fallsview Hotel in Niagara Falls, where Ron has business meetings for a few days. I have Matthew and Eliana, our two five-year-old grandchildren in tow. We do our thing while their Papa is in meetings and he joins us whenever he can. Although my energy is being taxed to the limit, I have been thoroughly enjoying looking at this beautiful part of the world through two pairs of five year old eyes.
Yesterday, Eliana, Matthew and I stood behind the barrier right at the brink of the falls, watching tons and tons and tons of water tumble over the edge into the mist shrouded gorge below. Two little faces with shining eyes peered through spaces in the stone and wrought iron fence, not worried in the least about the spray that was turning to bits of ice in the frigid air before hitting their faces in a fine spray of tiny ice crystals. Eliana put her fingers in her ears against the thundering roar. I thought about how many times I had stood in this exact spot and viewed this spectacle, winter and summer, and how I would never, ever be tired of seeing it or bored with the sight.
Not those children, though. As enraptured as they were at first, ten minutes turned out to be quite enough and they were soon clamouring for me to take them into the gift shop where they could at the same time warm up and look for gifts to take home for their families.
I motioned them close, put one arm around each of them, and pulled them close, directing their eyes toward the wall of falling water.
“Look at all that water!” I spoke loudly, raising my voice to be heard over the thundering roar of the water. “It falls and falls and keeps on falling. It never stops! There’s always more water coming. It comes, and comes and comes. There’s never any end! When I was seven years old, just a little older than you I stood here and watched that water falling just like you are today. That was almost fifty years ago! All my life long that water has been falling. And for hundreds and thousands of years before that. It never stops! Do you know what all that water makes me think of?”
They looked at me with wide eyes, and waited for me to answer my own question. We started walking toward the gift shop, three abreast, one child on either side of me, all of us holding hands.
“It makes me think of God’s grace. That means he loves us, and forgives us and wants to be our friend no matter what happens or how much we mess up. His grace just keeps coming and coming and coming and coming. We don’t deserve it, but he gives us everything we need, and he keeps on giving it. There’s been enough for my whole life long and there will be enough for your lives too. Just like that water keeps coming and coming, there is no end to his love for us!”
Though they seem to have forgotten the word “grace” they’ve mentioned my little talk a dozen times since. For lunch today, after a long morning swim, we all went downstairs to the restaurant in the hotel. There were linen napkins and tablecloths on the tables, silverware that was actually silver, a bread and butter plate for each of us, and no clowns on any packages anywhere in sight. We had a table near the window and a clear view of the falls. We sat looking out the window together and I asked them once again. “What do you think of when you see all that water going over Niagara Falls?”
“God’s love!” chirped Eliana. “It keeps coming and coming and coming and it never stops.”
“And he forgives us! He forgives and forgives us and forgives us no matter how many times we do stuff wrong!” came Matthew’s contribution.
They couldn't keep their five-year-old bodies still in that fancy place for the length of time it took to finish our lunch together. I ended up herding them toward the elevator before their dessert, leaving their grandfather to sign the bill and join us upstairs later. He had to bring our coffee and their ice cream in take out containers. Gritting my teeth, I said to the hostess on the way out, who was trying not to laugh, "I'm doing you a favour!" Once upstairs, coffee and ice cream finally ingested, we cuddled up together and turned on a movie.
They may have forgotten the word “grace” but I think they are beginning to understand its meaning just fine. And I just love being a grandmother…