I was very excited and about six years old. I was going to the circus. They held it in a big arena in Dodge City. I was sort of familiar with that building because my mother took me and my brothers and our little sister there to a ballet once.
I was disappointed though, none of the dancers tripped or fell during all of their jumps onto their tippy-toes. It was a long evening and whenever anyone brings up ballet I get an overwhelming feeling of malaise. Mom tried one more time and took us to see an orchestra perform there. The concert was pretty bland but I did enjoy watching the tympani player tune his drum and beat on it occasionally.
But the circus in the same arena held a lot more interest for me. I was looking forward to the trapeze performers and wondering if they would have a net under them. My older brother and I dutifully filed behind our mother who was holding the slippery hands of my little sister and my little brother as we left the car for the big arena.
Soon we were inside and climbing up to our seats. Mom had a bag of candy in her purse and Dan and I were each carrying a bag of popcorn that Mom had bought at the concession stand down in the big hallway. I was having fun climbing up the steps. Mom set us down beside her and made sure she hadn’t lost any of us walking through the crowd of excited kids and harried parents. I was ready for the candy and popcorn, and I could detect the faint odor of circus animals in the air.
And then it hit me: The urgent need to visit the bathroom. Mom wasn’t pleased but she had her hands full with Tim and Anna and the candy and popcorn. “Do you remember where it is?” she asked me.
“Yeah. I think so.” I nodded as I bounced from foot to foot, feeling my time was at hand.
“You go back the way we came, down the steps and back in that big hallway. It’s right there by the place where we got the popcorn and there’s a big sign that says restrooms You go in the one with a cowboy on it.” Mom looked at me questionably. “Should Dan go with you?”
I looked at Dan and his face wrinkled up with disappointment. “Aw Mom, the clowns are going to come out. Look!”
I was beginning to hop from one foot to another even faster when Mom said, “Okay, Paul. You go and come right back. I’ll be watching for you.”
Relieved I ran down the steps, banging into a few legs and barely missing a few knees. I found the hallway and the concession stand and the big sign that said restrooms. But most importantly I looked for the outline of a cowpoke on the men’s door and ran in. Just in time.
I knew Mom said to come right back and I could hear music and the crowd clapping and the loudspeaker blaring but somehow when I came out of the bathroom and smelled the fun food at the concession stand I must have wandered around a little as I looked to see what people were eating.
Eventually I headed for a big opening I thought would lead to the steps and back to Mom. But when I looked around for my family I didn’t see them. I stood back a little ways and scanned the crowd. I couldn’t figure out where they went and I began to feel lost and a little scared.
As I stood there, trying to not cry I spied a sweet looking lady smiling and nodding at me. She had two boys about my age sitting next to her and they were watching me, too. I timidly smiled at her and she put her hand out and waved for me to come to her. I was a little scared to, but she had boys so I figured she must be like my Mom and I climbed up the steps and made my way to where they were sitting.
“Well, hello!” The lady said with a nice sounding voice. “You look like your lost, honey. Are you lost?”
“No,” I said, with my six year old logic. “I just can’t find Mom.”
The lady laughed and her big brown eyes sparkled. The two boys with her smiled. I felt a bit more reassured. “Well I bet you like Lifesaver’s candy. Do you?” She held out a miniature roll of fruit flavored Lifesavers.
“Yes.” I said, looking at the candy.
“Well you take these and give me a hug so I know you’re feeling okay and I will tell you just where your Mom is sitting. How about that?”
I wasn’t sure what to say, but I nodded and took the candy. I looked at the boys and they were looking at the candy, too. Suddenly I was being squeezed tight by the lady and she smelled a little like soap and perfume.
“Now,” she announced. “You’re feeling better, right?”
“Mm-hmm,” I nodded.
“If you go back down these steps here and turn to the right, you know which is your right hand?” I nodded and held up my right hand. “Good! You go down these steps and go right and at the next set of steps you go up to the top and then you’ll see your Mom. I can see right where she is from here. Do you see her?” She pointed down the seats across another stairway. I looked and I could see Mom looking at me and nodding.
“Ok, off you go. Don’t forget, down the stairs, turn right and up the stairs.” She smiled again as she waved at my Mom.
I’d like to think I thanked her for her kindness. But I’m pretty sure I only nodded before I scampered back to the edge of the row and zipped down the steps and turned right and climbed up the other steps and made my way back.
Mom looked at me with a puzzled look on her face. “Who was that lady you were talking to?” She asked. “Did you know her? Or her boys?”
I shook my head no and showed her the roll of Lifesavers she gave me. “Oh, well that was kind of her. You share those with Dan.”
She started to ask something else but Dan interrupted, “Paul sit down will ya! I can’t see the clowns.” He laughed as they climbed out of their little cars squirting each other with water pistols.
I sat down next to my older brother and unwrapped the paper and the foil from the first of the five Lifesavers and wondered just who that nice lady was that noticed a lost little boy and pointed the way for him to go.
Luke 19.10 “…for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
John 14.6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
Lamentations 3.25 The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, To the soul who seeks Him.
Jeremiah 29.13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
Deuteronomy 4.29 But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.