Once upon a time in a land not far away, there lived a gentle old soul named Soho. He lived every day filled with gratitude and had become known as the honorary Grandfather of his beautiful mountain village. Without a doubt his favorite moments were spent with the little children who lived there. They adored Soho and would come looking for him because he always made them feel so special. Together they would laugh and play for hours on end. Despite his age, the children’s joyful energy kept Soho feeling young and free.
Today was different, however. Soho had awakened at the crack of dawn. He’d had a dream last night that the angels were singing to him. It was such a beautiful dream! He realized that they were preparing him for his final journey, crossing over into Heaven. Instead of feeling sad or frightened, he felt a great excitement come over him. He had lived a wonderful and very long life, full of grand adventures, day to day pleasures, and special moments shared with so many that he had held near and dear throughout the years. Yes, it had been a very good life indeed. He had no regrets and deep inside, Soho was ready to go. It was time.
Even so, there was something very important that Soho needed to do before leaving. He needed to say his good-byes to all of the children. He wanted one last chance to tell them just how much they had meant to him. Soho also wanted to make sure they knew that though he would soon be physically gone from them, he was truly only going to be just a heartbeat away. That’s how close heaven is. Of that he was certain.
So Soho called all the little children to come sit with him. They eagerly gathered at his feet and looked up into his loving eyes. He always made them feel happy, and they always brought joy to Soho too. As they settled in at his feet, he touched each one of them on the top of their heads and gazed into their eyes with a sparkle in his own that twinkled like the stars that shone in the night. The children could feel something was in the air but didn’t know exactly what to expect. They could tell by the shining look on his face that he had something wondrous to share with them today. What could it be?
Soho leaned closer to them now and with a whisper in his voice, he called them all to huddle as close together as they possibly could. So the children all wriggled and squiggled until they were snuggled so close to one another they were like one big ball of happy, which made Soho laugh.
“Today is a special day.” Soho began. “Today I will leave this beautiful planet but I want to let you know that I will continue to be with you…just in a different way. I want you to know that you have made my life complete.” So one by one, Soho looked at each and every one of his dear little friends, telling each of them why they were so special.
First, Soho caught the eyes of a little one whose name was Johnnie. “Johnnie, you are the best acrobat I’ve ever seen. Day after day I have loved watching you jump and twirl and leap like a little frog. You have the gift of magic in your step. Wherever you go, you will lighten the step of those around you. You are blessed and just by being you, you make others happy.
Susie, you are a little angel in disguise. Each time you look at your little friends, you make their hearts sing. You have the gift of laughter and it resounds like fairy bells that ring with joy all mixed up into one beautiful heavenly sound. I have loved your laughter and it has made my own heart sing. Thank you, sweet Susie. Your joy goes with me today.
Lonnie, you are the cutest little trickster I have ever seen. It seems like you have the ability to hide in plain view. One minute you are running and playing and the next moment you have disappeared…but in fact you’re just behind that tree or climbing to its very top. You swing off its branches and jump back down right into our very midst again. You make us feel the gift of surprise because we never know what you’ll do next and we all wait to see what tricks you have up your sleeves. You will go far with this gift because you will keep everyone on their toes. You will teach them to live and appreciate the moment, which is a gift indeed. Thank you my sweet Lonnie for helping me to see that every moment of life is precious and waiting full of surprises.
Dear George…you are such a solemn little fellow…a thinker true and true. You watch everything around you and wonder what is at its very core. You know that the secret of life is a mystery and it fills you with wonder. Never lose that gift of wonder dear boy because you will dig deep into the mysteries of life and reveal its magic to all who would listen. You will share life’s magic in a way that most others would never even have dared to consider. You are a treasure.
Darlene, dear Darlene… Today is like another day of sunshine with you at its very center. You have a smile and a radiance that touches everyone around you. You will discover as you continue to open your heart and share your love that you will be a little healer. Your radiance shines through your eyes and whenever you touch your little friends, they feel the glow that Spirit has given you. You have the true ability to share God’s love with others in a way that will heal their hearts forever. Peace could be your middle name, sweet Darlene. For you bring peace to the world around you. You are so very precious.
Joy…Your parents could not have given you a better name. Do you know that each time you open your mouth to sing that the birds stop to listen? They do, and there is no sweeter sound than that of your sparkling voice. Share it forever and you will lift others up into heaven for that one blissful moment. You will help others to let their troubles go and know that no matter what, they will hear love in your songs and feel hope. You will bring joy to others who have never known it before. The angels will sing with you and all will hear the sounds of God for God sounds just like you…beautiful, sweet Joy.
Earnest… What a somber name you have been given. But do you realize what a special name it is? For just like your name, you know that each endeavor in life has a purpose. I see you play with the others but there is something very unique about you. You know that every word you say has meaning and everything you do has purpose. You are wise beyond your years dear Earnest. You will grow up to be a great orator and the words you share will resound through the villages and the towns wherever you go. You will teach others to find their own purpose and to know that it is as simple as breathing…that their true essence lies within. You will help them to unlock the door that releases this wisdom into their very being. You will make a great mark upon this earth and the reward will be the very deep pleasure in knowing that you are following the deepest purpose of your own. The earnest desires of your own heart will manifest easily all around you and others will see that they too can follow their dreams. God will bless your words dear Earnest.
Kathy, sweet little Kathy. You are amazing indeed. Where have you ever gone that you did not know that you were blessed? This is such a gift. Most others never know this. But you know that God is with you. You feel the Spirit flow through you. I see it like a radiant rainbow of light that shines forth from your soul. You love with a heart that is golden. When you sit in the grass and pick the wildflowers I see you talk to them. You sing with the birds and you chase after the squirrels. You run into the arms of your parents and bring them great joy. Your life is blessed and you will be able to show others how to see the blessings in their lives when all they can see are the shadows. I even see you approach the trees and you stop to listen. You open up like a flower and hear the trees speak to you. You hear everything and choose to be a shining light. When others feel sadness, you wrap your arms around them. Even when sadness has touched your own heart, you go deeper than any child I have ever known and find love. It is in love dear Kathy that you know how blessed you are. I am grateful for you in my life.
Tommy, I speak to you last but you are as precious as everyone else. Don’t ever think otherwise. You sometimes doubt that you are special. You see all your other little friends and recognize the gifts that they have and wonder at your own. You are quiet and shyer than the rest. But let me tell you my most precious little Tommy. Your quiet ways will still the waves and fears of others. Your knowing heart recognizes the gifts of others and they will see how special they are through the reflection of your eyes. You will not have to say a thing. You just look at them with wonder and they will see themselves as they have never seen themselves before. This is your gift and you have only to truly look deeply into the mirror to discover it for yourself, Tommy. You will teach others the truth that lies in the words “Be still and know that I am God.” For you will understand that God lies within each of us and as you will see God in them, so they will see God in you.
The children all glowed with the special messages that Soho had shared with each of them. They wondered at his words and felt warmth spread through their hearts. As each one had listened to Soho talking to the others, they had nodded their heads in agreement. They too could see the gifts in each of their little friends that Soho so lovingly shared aloud. And when Soho spoke to them one at a time, it was like they alone were there with him, taking in each and every word, feeling it deep in their beautiful souls. They felt such peace and joy when they heard his words directed just to them.
Yet now one of the little children suddenly remembered what Soho had said in the very beginning. It was Kathy. She looked at Soho and asked him what he meant when he said he was leaving the planet today. Where was he going? And would they ever see him again? Surely he would come back! The others repeated her questions and jumped up to give him big hugs, asking him why he had to leave and where was he going?
Soho looked at each and every one of them and knew that they would feel some sadness at his leaving. Yet, he also wanted them to feel the joy he was about to experience. So he gathered them up once again into his big arms and quietly told them that today was the beginning of a new and joyous journey for him.
“Today”, he said, “I am moving on. Inside this broken, old body is my true self…still young and vibrant like all of you! You can get a glimpse of who I really am when you see the sparkle in my eyes. Do you see it?” The children leaned in and looked deep into his eyes. “I see it!” said Joy, and they all started laughing as he winked first one eye and then the other.
“Yes, you see me for who I really am, sweet children. And now it is time for me to be set free of this old body and soar like the wind. One day you will soar too, and I will be there to greet you once again. We will see each other in all our glory. But in the meantime, just know that you brought an old man true happiness and that joy will stay with me, even as the angels come to take me home.”
The children started to understand. They tried to picture Soho without his body and realized he was soooo much bigger than they’d ever imagined before. They realized that his body just couldn’t contain him anymore. He needed room to expand and reach up to the skies. Yes, it was Soho’s time to soar.
When Soho realized they were ready to let him go, he kissed each and every one of them on their foreheads. They all hugged and squeezed him in return. Then Soho turned and with a sweet wave, headed down the road. Tears came to their eyes but there was also a peacefulness settling in their hearts. This had been a special day indeed. As they watched Soho disappear around the bend, a beautiful double rainbow appeared in the sky. “Thank you, Soho.” they said. “We will miss you but we can’t wait to feel your touch, like a gentle breeze, on our cheeks. You will live in our hearts forever.”
The sweet children knew that someday they would see him again… it would be like a big birthday party, full of laughter and hugs and sweet memories…they would have so much to share with him then. They could only imagine what a glorious day that would be. But for now, they would carry their memories of Soho in their hearts. They would remember the words he shared with each of them, letting them know that each one of them had a special gift to share with the world.
That night as they looked out the windows of their bedrooms into the clear dark sky, each of them saw a beautiful new star shining brighter than any other. Then with a wink, it was gone.