Friday, April 16, 2010

The Gift

I wasn't really expecting to write anything else today. I thought I'd just enjoy a nice sunny afternoon before climbing into a car for a few hours. Really, I did.

But as we all know, we make our own plans, and God makes His. Sometimes I think it's bit more straightforward than that: We make our plans and God just laughs.

So what happened that changed my plan? I'm glad you asked. I can always count on you, dear Reader, to pick up on these cues.

As we were driving earlier today, I told my son that I was leaving town for a few days.

This is not something unusual. It seems like either my wife or I leave town at least one weekend every month, so he is fairly used to it. But today (I guess it's a Papa day) his lip started to quiver. And let me tell you, watching your five year-old son's lip quiver when he hears that you're going out of town for two days is enough to melt even the toughest of hearts. Well, it melted mine, and that's what counts.

So we talked about it.

I told him that every time I leave town, I am reminded of how much I love him, how much I treasure being with him almost every single day of his life. And in his tiny little voice, he echoed, "Me, too." I told him how much I was looking forward to seeing him again on Sunday.

"But I want to play with you tomorrow. Why are you going?" Now he wasn't on the verge of tears when  he asked this. I thought he would be. But no, he asked this question as just a matter of curiosity, and so I answered him simply and honestly.

"Shoghi," I said, "I am going out of town to try and be of service to Baha'u'llah. I have been asked to serve on an institution of the Faith, and we are meeting this weekend, so I have to be there to offer my contribution."

He asked me some questions about the role of this institution, what the geographical jurisdiction of this body was (no, not in those words), and what the meeting would be like.

So I answered him as simply as I could. I told him a bit about what we would consult on, how I would have to get up early in the morning and sit in a room for most of a 12-hour day. He asked if he could join me, and as much as I wanted to let him, I had to explain how we wouldn't be able to walk around and enjoy the area.

While I answered, he thought about what I was saying. He thought for quite a long time.

"Papa?" came the little voice from the backseat.

"Yes, Shoghi?"

"Can I give Baha'u'llah a gift?"

Where had that little brain of his taken him that he would ask such a beautiful question?

"Of course you can, my sweet. What would you like to give Him?"

"I want to give Him my missing you."

I am so grateful to God that we were at a stoplight when he said that. Even as I type this, I have tears in my eyes at the purity of his heart and the generosity of his gift.

A short trip down memory lane: A few years ago, before Shoghi was born, I was serving as a Regional Coordinator for the Baha'i Institute in my area. This job took me on the road nearly 3 months every year and as a relatively new husband, it was like a torture for my wife. Me, too.

One night, just before a week-long trip, Marielle looked at me, with tears welling up in her eyes, and said that she was going to really miss me. Then she steeled her resolve and informed me that she was going to give up this feeling of missing me on the altar of God, as her gift and contribution to ensure the success of my work.

My admiration for her spirit grew so much in that moment.

Just as my admiration for my son has grown.

I remember that trip after Marielle said that so vividly because I spoke about her sacrifice to the friends at that time. One evening, the last one before I headed home, one of the friends came up to me with a gift. It was a gift for Marielle: a drum. It was a drum he had made, and he wanted to offer it to her as way of saying thanks for encouraging my service.

We still have that drum, and it holds a very special place in our home and in our hearts.

I don't know what will come Shoghi's way, but he has already given me a gift that is beyond compare.

I have no doubt that Baha'u'llah will accept Shoghi's gift in the spirit it was offered, too.

1 comment:

  1. This child of yours is the essence of the spirits of both of his parents AND IT SHOWS. Keep up the good work of raising "one who will make mention of Me amid My servants."