She stood timidly and excitedly on the edge.
The other children lined up next to her.
One by one taking their turn.
Hands outstretched ready to catch them.
Hands open ready to embrace them.
My 3-year-old daughter is on that edge.
She’s waiting patiently for her turn.
I can tell she’s nervous and excited.
I can tell she wants to be sure someone will catch her.
She’s at swim lessons.
And she’s about to jump into the pool into the arms of the teacher.
She’s about to lift her feet in the air.
She’s about to feel what it’s like to fall – even if only for a second.
I watch her.
I look at her smiles and joy.
I see her feet bouncing up and down.
I see the teacher’s arms extended.
I see my daughter’s hands reach out.
I see her hesitate for just a second.
I see her take a step forward.
I see her jump.
I see her fall gently into the arms waiting for her.
I watch her make her way back to the stairs.
Full of joy and pride.
Ready to jump again.
She took a chance and she was caught.
And she does it again, jumping and being caught by arms waiting for her.
If only it would always be that simple.
If only it would always be that safe.
That every time she takes a chance, she’ll be caught.
That every time she steps forward, arms of love will embrace her.
That every time she reaches out for support, someone will take her hand.
That every time she falls, she’ll have arms waiting to pick her up.
These are my prayers.
These are my hopes and dreams.
These are the words I whisper to her softly:
Precious child of God, you are not alone.
You will always be caught.
You will always have arms reaching out to you.
You will always be embraced.
I will do my best to be the one to catch you.
I will invite others to join us and open their arms to you.
I will watch as you are embraced by so many who love you.
And we will be with you when you fall.
We will be there to pick you up and take those first timid steps again.
But no one will love you as much as the One who first embraced you.
The One who first welcomed you into this world.
The One who will always be with you.
The One who extends love and hope endlessly.
The One who existed from the beginning and will be there till the end.
God has called you and claimed you.
God loves you.
God embraces you.
Over and over again.
So keep jumping, precious child, and know you’ll be caught in love.
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two, and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, MO. You can read more at her website: http://kimberlyknowlezeller.com or follow her work on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KimberlyKnowleZeller/