The nature museum at Grandfather Mountain (North Carolina) was filled with families on this sunny day. The statue of Mildred the Bear and her cubs magnetically drew children to her, hugging and climbing around her.
Photos of the kids naturally followed as I then offered for families and groups to gather round and have their pictures taken.
“Thank you!” rang out as they all moved on to the next exhibit.
And then it happened.
A young family entered and immediately approached Mildred. The children hugged on the cubs, but one of the little boys was like a popped bottle of fizzing soda spraying all within reach with enthusiasm.
Dressed to the nines in ranger type clothing he boasted a too-large vest of which he was mighty proud. Badges, pins and other decorations glinted in the light.
I approached to give him a bear sticker to add to his collection and oohed and ahhed over his vest. Then I returned to my spot, turned around and was greeted by him running to me and flinging his arms around my waist. I responded in kind as his astonished parents looked on.
“Now I’m a ranger just like you!” he explained … eyes alight and exuberance spilling out.
His mom had caught what had happened and turned to her husband to demonstrate. “This,” she explained, “has never happened.”
“You made my day,” I declared to this youngster who clearly loved everything to do with nature, the outdoors and animals.
We each proceeded to walk into the rest of our day with a lighter step and accompanying smile.
I am hardly a ranger, but in the eyes of this little guy, he seemed to know that my volunteer shirt and pins meant something significant in this place. How blessed I felt.
The dictionary describes a person who is exuberant as someone who is high spirited; very lively.
It was clear and attested to by his mom, that places like Grandfather evoke this liveliness in him. It’s like he can’t hold back and he wants to absorb every detail of what he sees so he can share the experience with others.
What a lesson for me and for all of us to grab hold of in our spiritual lives.
What if our joy spilled out of high-spirited enthusiasm … cork unpopping and ‘fizz’ flying to splash others with the gospel message?
“I have come,” said Jesus in John 10:10, “that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
Exuberant love. Let it enliven our hearts, minds and attitudes. Selah