Wednesday, April 09, 2008

taking care of "that man"

saturday night i was getting the boys ready for bed. as i wrestled his baby brother into pj's, sylas sat on the floor and looked up at this illustration as it hangs on our wall. his two-and-a-half-yr-old eyes revealed much internal processing and concern. finally, he blurted out, "dad! who dis guy underneath da mountain?" i some how knew we were in for an interesting conversation. "he's stuck, isn't he? and it looks like he has some ouwies!" i responded. "that's soooo sad!" he said with a furrowed brow. he paused and a second later said, "and who's this guy on his horse? he no helping!" my heart swelled as i felt a lump form in my throat. "i know sylas, that is so sad, too. sometimes people don't always help when other people have ouwies." he shook his head and repeated his lament, "soooo sad!" curious about my son, i asked, "if daddy and sylas were walking by, what would we do for that man?" without skipping a beat, he said quite matter-of-factly, "we put him in mummy's bed, make him a cup of tea and tuck him in." i was a wet-eyed, glowing, awe-filled mess as he turned and ran into his room only to return seconds later with a teddy bear that he has never paid much attention to. he held it up and pronounced that the teddy bear was "that man" and proceeded to wrap him in a blankie, nurse him and tuck him in bed. that night he rejected his usual stuffed animals, preferring to fall asleep holding "that man" and since saturday he has been caring for the teddy bear and sleeping with it every night...
the gospel has never been more true and disruptive to me as when it is embodied by my toddler son who has never heard the story of the "good samaritain" but is able to respond to the same impulse.

for another theological reflection by sylas, visit this story from last summer.

8 comments:

cris said...

I think I'm figuring out how we can teach the kids the bible. If you could just send Sylas our way to pass on his insights from time to time I think that would be perfect...and I can learn a lot from him too.

Y'all have a good hearted boy.

Aaron said...

beautiful.

T. Nathaniel said...

This is great! I have always liked your theological illustrations series, but they are even better when seen through Sylas' eyes. I also like that his formerly neglected teddy now embodies "the other." Now I'm just wondering what Sylas has to say about the bull and cherub.

elnellis said...

thanks todd, and very true.
as for the bull and cherub... he's drafting his official position on that issue as we speak.

P&H said...

how beautiful. thanks for sharing this story phil. makes me weep that a big heart can fit inside such a little body.

pedro said...

I'll echo p&h.

I' can't wait to sit at the little rabbi's feet.

goodmorningsarajevo said...

what a beautiful story. it amazes me how much we can learn if we take time to listen to kids. i think that, during my time in bosnia, simeon taught me more than anyone else through small interactions like this.

thanks for sharing.

Brian said...

That is awesome!