My 9-year-old son Kason is a believer.
He believes people are genuinely good, that all hearts are pure and that his young friends will always be true to him.
He has faith that his sisters will always defend him, that Mom will always be there in the morning and that Dad will always be home on time for dinner.
He also believes that nothing is too small to find.
Recently, Kason was sitting at my feet on the living room floor playing with a brand new toy car. It’s a die-cast NASCAR model bearing decals from UPS and popular driver Dale Jarrett.
I don’t know much about the full-size car it’s modeled after, but I can tell you this miniature version is lightning fast. It’s powered by a young man with a 1,000-horsepower imagination and a V10 engine of raw creativity.
I also happen to know if catapulted across the floor at your ankle, it leaves a welt.
At some point during this recent evening, the car roared into turn four a bit too hot and slammed into the wall, dislodging a tiny metal piece from its hood. Thankfully, the driver was not physically injured, but I could tell he was emotionally banged up.
We determined the microscopic piece could've been anywhere within a 20-foot radius covering the hardwood floor, thick carpet, the entertainment center and the large leather recliner that had been my perch for the race.
I consoled the young racer and assured him that losing the piece would in no way affect the speed or aerodynamics of the car. It was purely cosmetic and would have zero impact on his ability to win the points championship at the end of the season.
It was my finest Knute Rockne moment. I was so inspired, I wanted to take my own turn hurling the car toward the finish line.
But as I wrapped the speech and held for applause, my guy was back on his hands and knees scouring the floor like a diamond miner.
I told him again, as lovingly as I could, that it would be impossible to find the piece and that he’d be better off bucking up and getting back on the track. “Brush it off, bud.”
He continued undeterred, stopping only to look up at me with eyes as big as an actual NASCAR oval to ask, "Will you help me look? Please?"
So I did, briefly, before repeating that he needed to manage his expectations and accept that something so small and unimportant would be very difficult to recover.
He searched on.
Bedtime arrived, and when I invited him to call it quits, he pled for just a little more time. “I will find it, Dad. I will find it.”
I admired his pluck and granted a few extra minutes. Then I left the room to wrap up my own day and prepare for bed.
Five minutes later I returned to find my recliner on its side with the footrest extended. Two little legs twisted out from underneath as one of his older sisters looked on in amusement.
Another moment passed before he slithered out and hopped to his feet. Between two fingertips he held a part so small it could have passed as a grain of sand’s baby brother.
He displayed it proudly and announced the obvious. “I found it.”
I smiled and imagined what else he was thinking. "You owe me an apology and a hot fudge sundae."
Taking advantage of his mother’s surgeon-like repair skills, the piece was reattached and all was well back on the Little Boy Toy Car Racing Circuit. I don’t think my son could have gone to bed any happier if he’d actually won a real NASCAR race.
Enough time has passed since this memory unfolded that he’s had several opportunities to remind me of every detail. But even if he’d never brought it up again, how could I miss the message?
His faith isn’t unique. The world is full of young sons just like him who would have done the exact same thing. Decades ago, I was one of them.
When did my faith become something too important to spend on the small and simple things? When did I become too old to believe that tiny miracles matter, too?1 comment on this story
It's not that I don't have faith; I do. I’ve worked hard to nurture it into something that convinces me without doubt that heaven is real, that my family can be together forever and that God loves me as his child — as his literal creation.
But somewhere along the way, I might have forgotten where it all started.
Something tells me my son will never let me forget the miracle of the missing race car part. And I suspect he will never forget the sweet taste of victory at seeing his simple faith rewarded.
I hope I'm right.
Jason F. Wright is a New York Times best-selling author of 10 books, including "Christmas Jars," "The Wednesday Letters," and "The 96th Annual Apple Valley Barn Dance." He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or jasonfwright.com.