I sit on a couch in a small, crowded living room. Sponge Bob Square Pants flashes across the screen in front of me and outside I can hear the groan of car motors and the shouts of children from the court yard. Joshua sits next to me laughing as Patrick and Sponge Bob are entangled in yet another argument. Zoey, the girl from the apartment next door leaves her spot on the floor to snuggle up next to me.
At six years old, Zoey's beautiful big eyes are framed by blond silky curls. Every time I see her, she's wearing the same stained tank top and short pink skirt shrunk down to size with a spare elastic hair band tied right above her hip. She shows me the foam flower cut-outs she's glued to her dirty ripped tennis shoes. One green flower falls off, and she hands it to me as a present.
"What's prayer?" Zoey asks.
"Prayers just talking to God, Zoey. Just like I'm talking to you."
Joshua chimes in, "Yeah, you just pray like this: Dear God, I pray my dad would get a good job, makes lots of money, and be rich. Amen."
"What do you want to tell God, Zoey?" I ask.
"I want to tell God everything," she says, honesty reflecting from her eyes and sincerity echoing in her tone.
Two weeks later, I go to visit Joshua's family again. Zoey has disappeared. A series of complicated life circumstances find her in custody of Child Protective Services and I can only assume in care of a foster home. As I seek the words to tell God how I feel about the situation, I'm reminded of Zoey's confidence that God wants to hear everything. And I am thankful for a God that not only hears everything, but sees, and knows, and cares about everything as well. Somehow, I'm given confidence that against all odds and circumstance, the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as Zoey.
I look at the green foam flower cut-out sitting in the cup-holder of my car, and I begin to tell God everything.