Long ago the rest of the house went to bed and, although I combed my hair, slipped off my shoes, and almost joined them, I still sit, wrapped in a warm blanket in front of the blaring air conditioner.

My heart is at rest, but I need to find my spot again. That place where all is well despite the chaos around you. So much in me winces—and cringes in the callousness that sneaks up when your back is turned and the bitterness that hides in the marred surface of our world. I find that just one day living can muss a heart, cleansed in the morning with Grace, back to its wretched state.

The world would let you know that nothing is worth it and that everything is pleasure. There is no option for truth strong enough to hold the heart loyal, love deep enough to trust, or relationship pure. It finds you, this serpent of lies, everywhere. In the blaring of your clients TV screen, in the lewd comment from the clerk, in the heartache of a friend, and in the subtle pull of the prettier-than-you-girl that makes you want to binge on makeup. It slathers the spirit with the sticky weight of discontent, and nudges the cynical smile to life. Just one day and one is weary with the stench of earth soil.

How is one to walk without being exhausted by the sin and the dirt of life?

How to return to innocence? A search for the-way-it-should-be. Sometimes it is not so much a returning, but a rediscovery, or sometimes maybe a gift.

Tonight I found it looking into the wide eyes of the little girl who ran through the rain, laughing. And as I swung her up onto the water-soaked slide and caught her as she sailed down, giggling, there it was, right up close. All the noise that rattles from vain hearts and smooth-talking, hair tossing idols filled with pride and vanity and lust seemed as silly as the reality that they are.

I’m still trying to figure out why that innocent look made all the messy dirt from the day seem to float away.

Or why when I hold a soft puppy, I feel fresh hope again.

 Hope for the beauty of vulnerability rather than coquettish, hard brilliance of today’s femininity. Hope for a life overflowing with the deep joy of contentment, and lying still at the end of the day, always, at rest, without needing to run and fill it with the millions of things our broken culture offers to help us hide.

All that from looking into the eyes of a child and holding a hound pup?

No, not just that. In the innocence I see the horrible mess of my own heart reflected. Then there is not much else to do other than to run to foot of the cross and to Jesus. He is the one who hands out hope, and joy, and second chances to someone as marred and fallen as myself.

Days bring dirt.

May I be innocent, like a child, in my faith, in my joy, in my running to Jesus.