The afternoon sun spilled through the living room window like golden honey.
Making the air glow and creating a cozy pool of warm delicious-ness.
I watched my three-year-old granddaughter, white-blonde hair a shining halo about her smiling face, as she tried to capture the floating dust-motes in the beam of light.
“Gramma, look!” she said excitedly. “They’re dancing!”
And suddenly, I was remembering another time.
And another little girl . . .
I had just graduated from the Nursery. The place, in our church, of food, toys, warm hugs, and sitting on the floor. Also the room in the basement. With the least amount of windows.
My fellow three-years-olds and I had been guided upstairs and into the sunlit chapel. Then given the gi-normous (expressive/made up word) front pew to sit on.
Don’t get me wrong, we were used to those pews.
But normally we sat on them with our parents/families.
Suddenly that great expanse was ours. Alone.
We were ‘big kids’ now.
My classmates alternated between sliding about on the polished, golden oak surface and staring at the women in charge of this meeting.
I was seated furthest from those women. And nearest the tall window next to our pew.
The late afternoon sunshine was streaming through.
For a while, that was amazing enough.
Then, I discovered that there were floating . . . things . . . in that golden beam of light.
Things that danced and swirled about when I waved my hand.
Things that gently, but effectively, eluded capture. No matter how quickly I moved. Or how hard I tried.
While the rest of the kids in the room sang or listened to stories, I concentrated on the little ‘floaties’ so tantalizingly close and so difficult to actually grasp.
Suddenly, the girl seated next to me slid to her feet. I looked around, startled. Our little group was following Auntie Grace and filing out of the room. I glanced one last time at my golden beam of magic, and reluctantly followed.
We were led to a tiny classroom that opened directly off the chapel.
And sat down on chairs.
Real, our-size chairs.
Auntie Grace smiled at us and welcomed us warmly.
Then she said something I’ll never forget. “Diane was playing in the sunbeam during opening exercises.”
I stared at her. Was I going to get into trouble?
She looked at me and smiled again. “Diane, that’s what you are! That’s what this class is! Sunbeams! You’re not in nursery any more. You’re all Sunbeams now!”
I blinked at her, not quite certain what she was telling us.
But I never have forgotten.