"Did you get a cheese pizza?" Ruby asked all fresh faced from swimming, Sadie, her little sister was right behind her, '"Eeese Eatza!" As was our tradition, Mike and Joe took the kids down to the pool and Marissa and I chatted after having ordered the food. We always order from the same pizza place, which is right across the street from the hotel, and we pretty much always order the same thing. I knew that when the phone guy said, after taking my order, "Oh, welcome back to Ottawa!" So, in short, yes, I had ordered cheese pizza for the girls. And Chicken for Marissa, and Spicy Spaghetti for Joe, and pizza with pineapple, hot pepper and onion for Mike and me. Our get together meal is always stress free, everyone gets what they want. Getting vegetables into children will come later in the visit.
"Cheese pizza!" I said in mock horror. "You wanted CHEESE PIZZA!?!?!? I forgot and ordered you pizza with broccoli and cauliflower." Ruby, who is a vegetarian child who hates vegetables, was having none of it. No matter how much I tried to convince her that she was getting pizza covered in 'slimy vegetables' she didn't buy it for a second.
"OK, smarty pants, how do you know I didn't get you a Very Vegetable pizza?"
With a lightness in her voice that I wish I could capture and put here in words, she said, "Because you love me."
How is that for secure?
How lovely it must be to rest so securely in the knowledge that you are loved that you never have to worry about being neglected, or having your wishes ignored, or enduring trickery and malice. How lovely it must be to know that your world is safe and fun.
When I was little, this is how I saw God.
I believed what I was told.
I believed that I lived in a world loved by God and that I was personally loved by God.
In my mind, that made sense to me.
I had a 'blessed assurance'.
Maybe that's what childhood is - a time of believing that all encompassing, all embracing love can exist. Maybe that's what we mean by the 'innocence' of children. Maybe that's what needs protecting. Maybe it's good to have a few years where love can both magical and real.
Even now I remember the shock I felt at being told, with the fervour of absolute conviction, that God did not love me. That there was love, there was an all embracing, total immersion love, but that I did not qualify. I remember the deep hurt of exclusion. I remember the pain I felt at the rejection of who I was by LOVE incarnate.
I never again trusted the world to give me cheese pizza.
For a moment I looked in Ruby's eyes of certainty, in Sadie's eyes of expectation and knew that every day that I can extend their experience of a world in which love exists, love from a human form, love from a cosmic other - I was giving them a gift. A real gift.
And I believe still, if no longer for me, then for them, that if God ran a pizzeria, he'd deliver exactly what was ordered.