SMALL PLATES & CHICKEN NUGGETS
Little Mitch sat quietly at our kitchen counter ready to eat lunch. His dear mommy prepared a plate of warm chicken nuggets and a dollop of ketchup. Chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese were among his favorite lunchtime meals. Though we were struggling to make ends meet at the time, Mitch always felt like he ate like a king. It didn’t matter if he had a bowl of Top Ramen or a grilled cheese sandwich, Mitch appreciated everything.
While his older siblings were at school, Mitch found ways to keep himself company. Wherever he went, he carried little treasures with him. Every day, we would find them in his small pant pockets, his backpack, lunch pail and in his tiny hands. As I watched my little son, I began to discover these things were more than tiny treasures … they were symbols of his affection. Suddenly, I was reminded of the passage, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” When I saw my son’s treasures, I knew where his heart was.
So, on this warm afternoon, I saw my tiny son carefully place his little treasures around his small lunch plate. On the left was his favorite racecar; Mitchell’s muscles were weak, but he was learning to be more active and he loved how he felt when he was on the move. This car was a symbol of his love for movement. Next to this car stood his puppy, which reminded him of our family dog and the love he felt for her. Then, a figure of a little boy which represented himself. Standing next to him was another figure Mitch called dad. Never did I see those two characters apart … they were always, always together. Finally, on the far right was Buzz Lightyear, his noble protector, a shield from anything that might cause harm to the things he loved. My heart melted when I saw this tender display of affection.
Later that day, I started to notice the same thing with my other children. Each had treasures unique to them. I wasn’t just fascinated by what they treasured, but how they treasured it and what each treasure revealed about their hearts. Every bookcase, drawer and collection revealed something about their little minds and hearts. What might have looked like a mess was actually a message. And suddenly, I was listening.
My sweet wife always seemed to notice our children’s treasures (and hearts) naturally … but I had to learn the slow way. But, at least I learned.
What I learned from my children was everyone has tiny treasures, even adults. What we do, and cling to, is an evidence of where our heart is.
What always struck me about Mitch was how he seemed to treasure everything and that he was grateful for whatever he had. During his darkest moments I heard him say things like, “Well, at least I can walk” or “At least I’m alive.” I may be guilty of many things, but I never want to be guilty of ingratitude. Little Mitch taught me that no matter how difficult a moment may seem, I can always find something to be grateful for.
Though at times, I may feel my plate to be small and my chicken nuggets few, I can find gratitude with what I have … for I have a plate and chicken nuggets.