Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Supper of the Lambs

If it is possible for two-year-olds to share anything, then these young men are sharing a meal. Though they are trying their best to eat amicably, Eli is getting new molars, as evidenced by the bib of drool, and Ben is coming off a week of bronchitis. Cousins, they have only just begun to know one another and aren't yet quite sure if this is going to work. Serious impediments to the full flowering of liberty, fraternity, and equality in this new relationship exist, paramount among these being the question of who controls Thomas Train. Yet because people they love have told them they should, they are trying.

Their expressions reveal what they aren't old enough to express, however: love is hard. You can get fooled. You can get bullied. You can lose your place in the sun to someone more charming than you are. So why open your heart at all?

Many of us, ostensibly far older and wiser than these two, never do. Most of us learn to hold something back for our own protection. We hardly know what to make of Christ's seemingly impossible injunction to "love one another as I have loved you"--even when it comes to the people we most adore.

The candle on the table, now blown out, is a silent witness to the possibility of what seems ridiculously naive, however. It was lit at Ben's request, just as we sat down together to eat. He, a two-year-old, wanted to pray. Looking around at each other in proud amazement, we obediently joined hands, this multigenerational gene pool gathered in one place, and waited for the lambs to speak. Eli was both forthright and succinct: "Thank you for the food." Ben, however, had more on his mind this special evening. He closed his eyes and bowed his head and prayed his prayer of gratitude for chickens and windmills and dogs and corn on the cob and Grandpa and Grandma and Mama and Dada and--miracle of miracles--his new comrade and competitor, Cousin Eli.

Then he said amen.

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