I so often sit and watch my young son enveloped in the task at hand sorting through the infinite gifts that God has so graciously given her, puzzled in the beautiful realizations of discovery that is granted each and every day this life’s dawn has so generously granted. There is a purity in the touch of a child’s discovery that feeds a place in a Fathers heart, like the breath of a baby’s slumber or the sounds of permeating my sole as his sweet sounds of contentment reach my heart like the fragrances of mornings dew in grassy gardens or fresh baked bread on a hungry heart.
The question of the day; “Being that it is time to move from this place, and move to another town, another land, a new home, should I tell Him, should I ask her what she thinks, his opinion, his vote?”.
I know my wife’s opinion, she would have us ask, for we are not only leaving a place that has been home, for as long as the child could remember, but has been a place of safety, success, many are the friends all of the children have around, the grace of abundance reins deep within all surroundings. Our Son has grown in maturity and she would include him in the decision-making process, for no other reason than to honor him. I am not as sure.
We already know what the child most likely will want. The child knows what they see, they have their friends, they know the homes, the successes, and the security of the neighborhood already discovered, conquered by the discoveries and adventures of yesterdays play. They have already overcome the fears of yesterday to find the gifts in smiles of friends found, they have built their own treasures in this short life’s garden formed with perfect soft new young hands.
As a Father, I too want nothing more than to give all of my children everything that they desire, nothing less than honor, but that is the dilemma, when does a gift cross the line of good and become a burden? A difficult decision even for the most loving and caring father, to weigh all the factors and consequences as to an action, fit the flower into a garden of already abundance, as to not make it a distraction or greater yet, a stressor inhibiting said child with burdens they are not yet ready to carry.
Children are so eager to grow up, so quick to run through the discoveries this life brings, sprinting with haphazard recklessness down these steep paths this rocky world has presented, often unafraid of the dangers that rest within the shadows of loose foundations and tangled footings waiting like serpents to catch unexpecting naive feet and bring soft pure bodies crashing down. It is in these lacks of experiences, lessons not yet learned, children run instead of walk, leap before looking, taste that which would poison, turn left in the direction that looks at the time to be the most desirable, but if they only had known through experience left held dangers, when right is the way she needed to choose.
It is also easy to understand when a child is left to choose for themselves, left to make decisions without experiences, that they might in time after choosing incorrectly, begin to resent He or she who gave them the choice in the first place. For who’s responsibility is it when a child falls, the child’s, or the teacher who failed to teach, the one who cares so little as to not warn them before falling? A good father would never bring them into a place without giving the means to climb out.
I remind my wife and myself, children have not the experiences to draw upon to make reasonable and prudent conclusions when decisions are given them that may have lasting effects on their development. Basically, they do not have all the pieces of the equation to effectively come to the right conclusion. And it may be wrong to put him already in a position to try to decide?
I have often seen children who given far too many choices, being placed in a position of needing to decide many things for themselves, left alone to their own ways, seemingly leading to behaviors that others might observe as selfish or even rebellious. Why would this be, if they seem to be getting everything they desire, wouldn’t one conclude they should be happier, more content? Why do they seem so overstressed?
So that leaves One and I ask myself, should I take my family from this home they love, this place of friends, these faces of familiarity, smiles, and safety, and cross the desert of unknowns to a new home. The question is thrust upon the shoulders of this child that dwells within my own sleeping mind, the ponderance of all possibilities, factors of need, responsibility, opportunities, what is better for the facility as a whole, the good of all, and the decision that will grant the greatest Good.
That is ultimately the responsibility of the Father for His child, to provide the greatest place he can in this most dangerous world, giving the opportunity to live the life God has assigned, and do it in a way that places the least stress on the developing child, granting the most use of all of His gifts to insure my Son grows to strong man, unburdened by as much as I can carry, so she use every morsel, every breath, every drop of pure water to grow to her greatest potential, a blossom of perfected beauty unique in this most spectacular garden. And as a father, as a child I need to ask The Father in me, what am I to do, show me where and when I am to go. Not the place I think or am trying to rationalize based on my limited experiences, but the place where an older and wiser Father advises.
Sitting in front of me as my mind wrestles with all of these prayers, my son quietly uses a sanding rock to delicately form a bird out of a soft piece of wood. Meticulously he works fashioning shape and beauty for that lump of clay that sage wood was only moments before slowly transforms into a creation of infinite beauty and value. The bird takes form as pieces flake off and perfection replaces the imagined creation in his mind. Even more beautiful is the concentration and efforts his little hands’ place on every stroke of the wood stone on the immersing bird. The sweet smile as she forms and works the precious creation in His hands. No greater a smile than his fathers, as he watches in bathing warmth his son work. A father blinks and fluttering away a bird flies, released in the imagination and creation of his son. Beautiful, no perfect, is the only word The Father can with tear filled eye sigh as he watches his child play.
The child looks to the Father for the answers as to where it is best to go, what it is she is to do, what berry he can eat, what water is safe to drink, when it is safe to close my eyes and trust that as I sleep, my Father will ever be standing watch making sure safe and lovingly tomorrow I will wake.
By Peter Colla
“Jesus, help me to make the right decisions not only where to go, but in how and with whom I will walk, every step, every breath, every moment.”