We assembled in front of the television for our evening ritual: retro tv on dvd. Grant and Sam sprawled over the floor. Gabe curled on the sofa. Logan and Zay settled into the over-stuffed chair in the corner. Lonny sat beside Gabriel, and I nestled into his side.
And the whistling tune of Andy Griffith lulled our family to stillness.
But only for a moment.
“Mom,” Gabe said. “I forgot my orange.”
Oranges. The other part of our evening ritual. Leave it to Beaver oranges. I Love Lucy oranges. Brady Bunch oranges. The three little boys, for their bedtime snack, peel and eat oranges. Every night. Every show. It’s as much of the bedtime routine as brushing teeth or saying prayers.
“Mister Man,” I said. “We’ll get your orange. In a minute or two.”
“But I’m hungry now.”
“You’re welcome to go get one,” I said. “We’ll pause the show.”
Gabe’s face scrunched to a frown. “I’m not going down there. Alone.”
We live in an old Victorian. Our family room is on the second floor, and the kitchen is on the first. Down the deep, curvy stairs. Across the lower level. Not a sweet deal for little kids at dusk.
“You’ll be fine,” I said. “This is your home. Your loving, safe home.”
“Still not going,” he said. “But I would like an orange.”
Lonny hit the pause button, quieting the voice of Barney Fife. It was silent for a moment, then Zay jumped from Logan’s lap.
“I’ll go get it,” he said with all the valor and bravery and courage a four-year-old could muster. “I’ll go get the orange!” He stood tall. Squared his shoulders. Made a bold face.
“But aren’t you scared?” Gabe asked.
“I am,” he said. “But God will go with me.”
Zay struck a pose. Grinned. Performed a mini gun show. Then he was off. Down the stairs. Across the house. Into the darkness.
Fully confident in the presence of God.
I learned from Zay that night, my sweet, brave, trusting little son. When I’m afraid? I’m not alone. When things are dark? I’m not alone. When the route is long and shadows lurk? I’m not alone.
Not ever alone.
I will never leave you nor forsake you. Joshua 1:5