Sometimes my children..Wait, let me rephrase that.. Often times, my children remind me about our calling in the world… It has also become apparent to me, that I cannot always protect them from the things that happen in the world. This past week, there were violent acts of terrorism in Paris France. What made it real and scary to my children was that their grandparents were visiting France. Waiting to hear that our loved ones were safe was unnerving for all of us… And although we put on our best face and try to smooth over the worst of things– children notice. I think it is ok to let them know that, we are scared. There is something we can do — that they can do…
We can be like Flashlights…
Here is a conversation I had with my son, just before it was time to get on the school bus following the events in Paris.
He stood there, teeth chattering as his little hand gently slipped into mine. His blue eyes silently staring up at me.
As I gazed at my magnificent seven-year old, I realized that his gaze was a very intentional one…. His HUGE Blue Eyes were searching my face…
“Are you okay little man?” I asked him. His face was awash of color from the reflection of the sun on the orange fall leaves. I watched as he rubbed his eye with his free hand to catch a runaway tear that he did not wish for me to see.
In a barely audible little voice he then whispered, “I am scared…”
These three little words transformed the air around us as they left his little lips. They enveloped us – robbing us of oxygen for what seemed like the longest moment of silence that either of us has even felt.
It is so difficult to talk to our children about the world and the evil that presents itself. Especially when the world seems so frightening. There is a truth that is very difficult to explain away…
Under the weight of it all I felt vulnerable… I felt seven years old again. The events of so many years of inexplicable acts of violence — against humanity, by humanity — came rushing towards me… Attacking all hope… What would the future hold for this little boy? My little boy…
My mind raced to find a place where I could return my son’s confidence by saying something to make him feel better. Maybe I could just push aside his fears, and attempt to mask the truth so that maybe it would not be so very scary to him.
“Me too. Buddy.”
I felt defeated.
My son looked down at his shoes, “Yeah…” is all my typically eloquent son could muster.
I looked down at my shoes and stepped forward so that our toes were touching, and echoed his “Yeah…”
He then tugged on my hand, pulled me down to his level and closer to him. I squatted in front of him. I had a job to do here and it felt like the future rested upon how I would respond.
I had exactly two minutes to find the right words to say. I could already hear the dull revving of the school bus engine as it began making its way towards our driveway. Today would have been the perfect day for the town to work on the roads, so that the bus might just have to run a few minutes late.
I just needed a few more minutes…
But I did not have more time. This was it…
So I blurted out some words… Powerful messages shared with me from the communities I am blessed to know. It just so happened that I was witness to the sharing of these messages yesterday at our local church and a beloved youth group community…
A reminder that the Spirit works in just this sort of way… When we need it most.
Anyways, with sixty seconds left on the clock , my mind raced. My son and I locked gazes and I spoke these words;
“Ya, lots of scary stuff out there lately…There is something we can do though kiddo..”
Liam thoughtfully responded with a half statement/half question; “We can pray?”
“Yes Liam. Praying is powerful.” I responded.
“Being good is also powerful. Provoking others to do good Liam, take your goodness and spread it, be good, do good, put goodness back into the world, love people the way we love you…Our goodness changes things..”
He nodded, and as his nose touched mine, I could feel his breath upon my face. It was warm and smelled of Cheerios. I was falling short here.. I knew I had to do better. I wrapped my arms around him and kissed his forehead.
“Scary stuff is like being in the dark without a flashlight, isn’t it buddy?”
And Liam responded, in all his wisdom – well beyond my own. His response caused me to hold my breath..
“Yes, Mom, but you and I can be flashlights, right?”
“Yes Liam, you and I can be flashlights”, I whispered.
With that, he smiled and turned on his heel to run towards the bus that had pulled up at the end of our driveway. And as he peered back at me, I continued to hold my breath and thought, I wish it was that easy. I wish that we could just turn on our lights and instantly all the pain and suffering that exists would simple no longer exist.
But, you have to start somewhere…
As the bus pulled away, his little face beamed at me through the window and as he held his little hand up to the glass, he signed “I love you” using his three little fingers… Something he was taught by his older sister.
Way to go little man….
Be the Light…
You are so loved…
I must say, I have never loved anything more….