In this little town of Truro, Nova Scotia there are many boys and girls who are afraid. Some remember sorrows which happened to them in the past.
It was a badly cut finger or a broken ankle. Sometimes even a hurt, deep inside from a word spoken in anger.
When the night sneaks upon them, children lay in bed with the blankets tightly up around their chins. The shadows on the edge of the ceiling make them slide deeper under the covers.
One of these young children is a boy who is a real scared-cat. Matt is ten years old and always nervous about something.
And tonight is no exception. That's why his mother left the light on in the hallway. Frightening away strange noises helped him sleep.
But that's not all that's wrong with Matt. He is also very unhappy. In the daytime he watches everyone pass by.
He notices adults carry their briefcases on their way to work. He even worries about how hard they have to work.
He sees ladies holding umbrellas in case the rain comes in the afternoon. He thinks a hurricane or a terrible rainstorm might come.
Matt always thinks the worst.
He even lingers behind other children on their way to school. Some play friendly tricks on each other and tease and holler in loud voices.
Not Matt. He has very few friends. In fact if he had to think very hard he probably wouldn't remember more than two. They live on the other side of Truro. So he's pretty much alone.
Today is very special for Matt. He doesn't realize it but his grandfather is watching him.
He sees Matt go to school and waits for him to come out for lunch. He watches Matt eat by himself on one of the benches in the schoolyard.
It is right near one of Matt's favourite squirrels. A bushy black movement always waits for his friend.
Grandfather sees this and is glad. He watches as Matt motions the squirrel to come across the yard and sit with him.
A black blur races toward him. Then she jumps up on the bench to take the peanut treat.
Over the next few days grandfather was able to observe the kindness, which Matt had not only for animals but for people as well. When Sally fell off her bike and cut herself, Matt stayed with her until she was fixed up by her mother.
Most of the neighbourhood children took part in a Saturday baseball game with their parents.
Matt never played because he thought he was not good enough. He was old enough and big enough but he was too afraid to try.
He thought if he ever got up to bat, he would never be able to hit the ball. Then he would let everyone down, and they would laugh at him.
And if he hit the ball he would be too slow to run to first base. Or he might miss the ball when it was thrown to him. Matt was so afraid of making a mistake.
Grandfather knew this and wanted to help Matt.
Matt was watching a few children play ball at Victoria Park. Then grandfather decided to make his appearance. He sat beside Matt and said "Hello." Matt almost fainted. This was a surprise visit.
"Grandpa!" he shouted. His own favourite grandpa from Edmonton, Alberta was here is right beside him.
"I want to see you play ball in Saturday's game," grandpa said.
Grandpa asked Matt what he wanted most and before the answer came from his lips, something mysterious happened. Matt felt so light he wanted to fly. There was a picture in front of his eyes, then another and another. Images and sounds were running through his mind.
His whole body felt relaxed. His hands weren't shaking anymore and suddenly he felt an urge to do something.
He could feel it tugging at his arm and sending shivers down his spine. He looked at the baseball game and watched excitedly as someone who looked so much like himself hit the ball and ran to first base.
He watched the rest of the game in amazement as that same boy who looked like his twin did awesome things, wonderful things like he wished he could do.
Matt suddenly awakened from his dream and looking down at his arm saw that grandpa was grasping it firmly.
Grandpa had told him something.
Matt knew he could do it, if he wanted to. He could be that same boy in the dream.
But grandpa said," It was no dream." Then he got to his feet and placing his hand on Matt's shoulder said, "Be happy, grandson. And do your best to make others happy."
From that moment on, Matt was never afraid again. He did play in the very next baseball game. And it was just as grandpa had said.
He could do it.
And he did.
* * *
Richard & Esther Provencher
My wife, Esther and I really enjoy writing. It is an excellent salve, in addition to prayers, a great wife and family during my continuing recovery from a stroke/aneurysm. You can contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org re comments on our work. We live in Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada. Pray for others.