Here’s the song reference.
A treasured friend brought her little boy over yesterday for a playdate so I could spend a couple of hours over at Nonno and Deedaw’s, helping them take care of a few things that will make Nonno more comfortable and Deedaw more likely to smile. I returned home in the early afternoon, bearing a bag of sandwiches and a tub of macaroni and cheese for lunch, much to the delight of our tribe. After we’d all eaten our fill, and Baby Guy had retired to his crib for a much-needed nap, I called Deedaw to let her know four of her favorite tiny people were happy, well-fed, and sending her hugs and kisses, and to remind her that she did not need to send Manie home until she was tired of his company.
Deedaw spoke in a hush when she answered the phone. I had been listening to CDs on the way home, and the TV is rarely on at our house during the day, so I initially assumed she was keeping her voice down because Nonno was napping. Once I had advised her of the tribe’s general well-being, she commented that she was terribly sad, and that she couldn’t understand how someone could be so awful to little kids. Somewhat taken aback, I hastened to reassure her that our tiny people really were perfectly fine hanging out with their friend and his mom, at which point she realized that I had not heard the horrible news from Connecticut. I retreated into our bedroom, quickly scanned the headlines on my laptop, checked Facebook for posts from a college friend who lives in Connecticut, and gave a silent prayer of thanks for a post from another friend of hers informed me that she and her family live in a different part of the state.
We’re normally pretty quick with hugs and kisses around here, but yesterday, I just wanted them close to me, all of them. Mr. Man took his little nap curled against my chest yesterday, and I managed to wake Baby Guy by opening his door to check on him; housework was backburnered in favor of a couple of extra stories for Bugaboo and Beanie, and we sent out for pizza for dinner.
I wish I had a cute story to share about yesterday. I don’t. It’s not that I’m maudlin, or watching the saturation coverage that I’m sure blankets the airwaves this morning, but yesterday was a very reflective day for me. A post describing those reflections in detail would probably top ten thousand words, but the gist of it is that loving my children and my neighbor matters. As Lloyd Alexander put it in a book I loved as a child and an adult, “A pebble can turn aside an avalanche or this twig can stem a flood…but if twig or pebble are to work they must be well placed.”
No one knows what twig or pebble he or she may be in the eyes of the Lord, but each of us is one. The lesson, at our house, is not political, but one of faith. We are called to love our neighbors and ourselves, to love the Lord and His law above all else, and to be the light of Christ to the world. Where there is no light, darkness reigns. We cannot compel any other person to see light and beauty, but we can radiate both in all places, at all times, to all people, and, in faith, we must. Instead of averting our faces from our neighbors to focus on little video screens, we must notice the need of our neighbors and love those neighbors enough to share our time, talent, and treasure to help them. That means we must do it personally, instead of waiting for some other person or entity to take notice. By doing so, we serve the Lord. By doing otherwise, we serve His adversary.
Today’s prayer: Lord, thank You for Your four little blessings, who are presently safely asleep in their beds. Help us teach them all Your Commandments, and that the new Commandment You gave us arises directly from the original ten. Teach us, that we may teach them, not to avert our eyes from our neighbors, not to replace tender compassion with covetousness, envy, wrath, or sloth, not to replace extending a loving hand with a glance at a screen. You call us to examine our own souls and look to You for healing, Lord, and we beseech You for healing and for mercy for those who suffer and mourn. As we prepare to celebrate Your birth, Lord, grant us hearts humble enough to examine what lessons we are teaching Your little blessings, what lessons they are learning from our words and deeds about how we should live, and grant us the exceeding grace of the wisdom to teach them as You would, not as the world does.
Lord, have mercy on Your children. Keep us mindful of the Holy Innocents, martyred at the hand of a man who usurped Your authority over life and death. Grant us the eyes to see those who would usurp Your power and the grace to be the twig or pebble that turns them.