Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Love Story

I was told a story recently of love and pain. Love and pain live along a vast and rolling landscape. They are hard to describe, hard to measure and sometimes hard to believe. But sometimes they are very simple.

Thomas was having a hard time. Most of the time he didn't mind that he was different. But sometimes he did. He liked chess and imaging himself a knight fighting dragons. He liked to read or simply sit by himself and think in the rays of sunshine that streamed through the crack in his bedroom window's curtain. His mom told him he didn't have to like football, or basketball, or soccer, or any other sport if he didn't want to. And he believed her. But sometimes even though he didn't like them, he wished he was at least an okay player.

At least for awhile Ethan didn't like to play all the ball games at recess either. They would run around smashing into poles and it was fun. But then the game on the playground changed to kickball and Ethan thought he might be good at that. Thomas decided to give it a try. He was feeling brave. It didn't look that hard.


Mary was worried about Thomas. He was having a hard time. She knew he wasn't a typical kid. But most of the time it didn't seem to bother him. Maybe it was her fault. If it hadn't been for... or if she had just... maybe he would be more athletic, more aggressive, more typical. But no, she didn't want him to be any of those things, not unless he wanted it for himself. She just wanted him to be happy. And lately, he wasn't. As she lay beside him in his bed she wanted to know why.

"What did you do at recess today, poles again?"
"No? Then what did you do."
"Nothing hu? Well did you do nothing with Ethan?"
"How come, was he sick today?"
Breathe, she told herself. Wait.
"He played kickball."
"Oh, you didn't want to play?"
"No, I did."
And then the tears came, and they wracked his small frame but that was nothing to what they did to his mother's heart.
Through his sobs she barely heard,
"No one would pick me. Ethan got picked last and then they all ran off. I didn't even get picked last, I didn't get picked at all."

Breathe, she told herself. Breathe, do not cry. Do not think of all the terrible things you could do to those kids and to their parents and to the teachers on the playground. Just Breathe.

And so, she took a deep breath and said a little prayer to the Mother of God whose Son had also been rejected. Putting her arm around him, pulling him close she said:

"That is a pretty big Cross for a seven year old to carry around. And that tells me that God must have some mighty big plans for you, young man. He is getting you ready for something very special that He needs you to do.

But Crosses are hard. Even for big people, but especially for little kids. And so I want you to look at me, and I want you to hear what I am going to tell you."

Small tilt of a tear stained face.

"If you ever get to school and you think that your cross is too big, you tell God. You tell him that you know He has big plans for you, and you want to help Him, but today your cross is just too big, and you can't carry it by yourself. Are you listening to me Thomas?"

Small nod .

"If you tell God that today your cross is just to heavy, He will take that Cross and make it lighter. I promise you that, Thomas. He will make it lighter, and you will know it."

And a peace fell over the bed as if a cloud had descended upon the mother and child, and she knew he had heard, and she knew he felt peace.

But as she closed the door, her own tears came. Quietly so he wouldn't hear. For his pain was her pain, and she loved him so much that it hurt. But she didn't ask God to make it lighter, instead she thought of her small brave son, picked up her Cross and carried it to bed.

For Mary, who shared who story and let me tell it.

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