Friday, April 2, 2010
It was a rare and treasured sunny, Spring Break day in Oregon. We were on our family vacation. The boys were so excited. We all love to travel, glad we passed this passion on to our sons at such a young age. We’d decided on a simple, short trip to Portland....two nights in a hotel, ride the MAX, see the city, go to the zoo, OMSI, swim in the pool, and visit IKEA. I felt we were giving our boys a showcase tour of the Rose City.
But, the highlight for me was the lunch we shared in Pioneer Courthouse Square. It has been dubbed Portland’s Living Room, and really...it is. Everyone is there. Everyone is relaxing. Everyone is doing what you’d do in a living space. We ordered a large pizza from Pizza Smeccha. We were spread out on the north western steps. We were warm and happy. I found the man sunning himself and exposing us all to his hairy chest to be a bit of a distraction, but otherwise I was pretty much focused on my family and our time together.
Someone else was not. Someone else was noticing someone without. Out of the corner of my eyes I saw my three-year-old scooting a plate of pizza toward a man sitting a few steps up from us. He wasn’t scared of this man, who we would label homeless and a “stranger.” No, he was just unsure how to go about sharing his food.
The man was also unsure if he was supposed to take a toddlers gift. I smiled, “Honey, do you want to give your pizza to him?”
The man took it and from the rate to which he enjoyed it, my son observed his need for food well. I couldn’t help but beam with pride. I was impressed by my child’s skills to observe and empathize. Was all my parenting and modeling and teaching working? This is my goal: Love God, Love Others. I would be more pleased if my children grew up to be models of this type of life choice than if they were successful embodiments of our capitalist system. I would love if I could pass on a sense of only needing our daily bread and what was extra we pass on.
I saw a glimpse of this in my son. Much of what I try and model gets flubbed up by my own imperfections, but because of God’s grace and God’s light in my child, some of what I value is being passed on.
Later when it was time for us to catch the next MAX train the man stood in the doorway and held up the whole train so that we could all get in with kids and bags in tow. He was giving back. We received his gift to us. He gave what he could, and I was thankful. It was what we needed at the time.
Later when I asked my son why he’d given him his pizza he answered simply, “Because he didn’t have any food, and it is good to share.” Then he launched in to the story of Jesus on the cross and the two robbers and how the one robber wasn’t nice to Jesus, but the other robber was, and Jesus forgave his sins and told him he’d be in heaven with him. This all connected in his mind, and I think it was a significant piece of my son’s spiritual journey with Christ. It was real, and it flowed from a place strangely not human. It was a God-sighting.
These are the stories we share. We are seeking stories like these. Sometimes our stories of failure teach and sometimes our stories of success encourage.
If you have a story please consider submitting to our anthology. You can read more about it by following this link. The deadline is June 1, 2010.
And in the Spirit of Easter (and this story).....Christ Lives