Sunday, March 14, 2010

My Little Seedling

Yesterday, as we were driving cross-country, my son asked me if I loved him. Then he asked me if I loved everybody.

Actually, he asked me this dozens of times: "Papa, do you love me?" "Yes, Shoghi, I love you like the wolf loves the moon." "Papa, do you love me?" "Yes, Shoghi, I love you like the elder loves his stories." "Papa, do you love me?" "Oh, Shoghi, I love you very, very much."

A few minutes later a variation of this would start again.

"Papa, do you love me?" "Of course, Shoghi. I love you more than I can describe." "Papa, do you love everybody?"

And then I would think for a moment. "I try, Shoghi."

"Even bad guys?"

"I try, Shoghi, but it isn't easy. So yes, even bad guys."

After the fiftieth or sixtieth time of this, I decided to check and make sure he knew I loved him.

"Shoghi? Do you know I love you?"

"Oh yes, Papa." I could see his smile in the rearview mirror. "Papa, do you love me?"

"Shoghi, do you love flowers?" For some reason I couldn't fathom, this just seemed like the right question in response. Whenever my instincts say to do something like that, I just go with it, even if I don't know why. Especially if I don't know why.

And so, thinking about his joy when we go to the conservatory, I asked if he loved flowers.

"Yes, Papa, I love all flowers."

"Even red flowers?"
"Yes. I love all flowers."

"Do you love yellow flowers?" Yellow is his favorite colour.

"Even yellow flowers. I love all flowers."

"What about purple flowers?"
"Yes, Papa, I love all flowers."

I was beginning to wonder why I was asking. I'm sure he and my wife were, too.

"But Shoghi, do you love flowers with polka dots?"

"Even with polka dots."

"What about flowers with stripes?"

"Yes, Papa. I love all flowers."

"Do you like flowers that smell nice, like roses?"

"Oh, I really like those."

"What about flowers that smell like rotten garbage?" We had just read an article about flowers like that.

"Bleah," was his immediate response. This was followed a moment later with, "Well, I love them, but not their smell."

And there was the lesson we needed to learn. A beautiful summary of "love the sinner, not the sin".

At this point, my wife chimed in. "That's how we love bad guys, Shoghi. Their bad actions are like the bad smell. They are still beautiful flowers, but they just have a scent we don't like. Do you know why they smell that bad?"

Shoghi shook his head, "No".

"Because those flowers need little bugs to help them make baby flowers. And those little bugs like the smell of rotten garbage. But we don't, do we?"

"Bleah," was the giggled reply.

"Baha'u'llah says 'to the beetle a sweet fragrance seemeth foul', so would you rather be a beetle or a person?"

"A person." No question there, for him.

"You see, Shoghi, we get to choose. We can either be a person, and choose to be good, and get to love the rose, or we can choose to be bad and get the rotten garbage, instead. Which would you prefer?"

I just love my family. They teach me so much, and make those cross-country rides even more of a joy.

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