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It is dark, four children are finally quiet and in bed, and I am carrying a basket of folded laundry up the stairs.

I lift my head and see this: the tall double-hung window that presides over the turn in our staircase. The bottom is etched glass, and a battery-operated candle on the sill has filled it with one perfect rainbow. The top is clear glass, and a full moon hangs precisely at its center.

A full moon and a rainbow. I’ve heard the voice of God in signs like those.

I stop and listen, but I don’t hear that voice tonight.

Maybe I silenced it when I shouted at the boys? First, there was sword fighting with the curtain rods I had carefully placed in the corner (we’re in the middle of painting the family room). I couldn’t handle the noise, was worried the glass finials would break. Next, there was jumping from the couch, so I left them alone, yelled over my shoulder, “Someone will be crying soon!”

When the older boy started crying, I had no sympathy. Later, when I finally checked and saw the blood on his scalp, I somehow had even less.

Putting them to bed, I stepped on the baby Jesus, and I saw red. The baby Jesus from our wooden nativity set is sharp, and my foot hurt, but I saw red because I had told them, told them!, not to bring the Christmas decorations up into their room. It’s like a black hole in there, and I can’t take it anymore, and why did it have to be the baby Jesus accusing me with its painted-on-smile? Why not the donkey? I’d have had no problem throwing that donkey against the wall.

Lying in bed, I think about the full moon and the rainbow. I think about how silent they were. “Jesus, where are you??”

I hear these words in my head: Jesus was a little boy.

I tend to think of the incarnation and remember the baby. Or, the man. Never the little boy.

And the truth is, I don’t want to think about Jesus, the little boy. I don’t want to imagine Jesus jumping off the furniture. I don’t want to consider whether Jesus knew how to use his inside voice.

I want God to speak to me in rainbows and full moons. I want to see angels and follow stars.

I resist the thought that Jesus might be nearer than I think. Perhaps as near as the toddler bed down the hall where a little boy clutches a wooden Mary in one hand and a Lego astronaut in the other.

Too near.
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