On a pleasantly warm evening, 8-year-old Colin and I are hanging out in the front yard of his house. And my grandson gives me a spiritual lesson.
"Aw," says Colin, looking at their well-groomed lawn. "Where did all the dandelions go?" Immediately, I think: Dandelions are weeds. Weeds are bad. I wish my lawn didn't have so many of those dastardly weeds. But ... "I wanted to pick some of them," he says.
Death is not a joyful mystery. Perhaps it should be.
Don't get me wrong, only with very extenuating circumstances will we find joy in the death of anyone, especially a loved one. I have missed my mom every day in the 21 months since she passed away. Yet, as I reflect, it was at least partly selfish of me to have asked for a miraculous cure of her brain cancer then.
And it would be even more selfish of me now to beg God to bring her back from what I assume is her eternal happiness.
I like to accept compliments, to receive congratulations. I like to garner praise.
Who doesn't delight in hearing nice things about himself, right? Who doesn't enjoy having good efforts recognized? Externally, we might react with humility: "Please, anyone could have done that." We might dismiss it: "Come on, it wasn't anything special." We might display embarrassment and simple graciousness: "Thank you for saying that." But inside, it feels really good.
Once, in a confessional, I told a priest that I considered myself the worst sinner I had ever known — not really for the bad things I had done, rather more so for the thoughts I have conjured and encouraged in my head.
"That's not the first time I've heard that," he said. His smile quickly disappeared; his face turned stern and serious. "You need to not think that way. That's pride, thinking you're the 'best' at anything or the 'most' of anything. And pride is a bigger sin than most of the stuff in your head.
Inside every human being there abides a longing. A need, an absence designed on purpose by the Creator. Some philosophers refer to it as a vacuum. Rich or poor, master or servant, woman or man, young or old — everyone has it. We yearn for happiness. Some theologians call it a "God-sized hole." We yearn for God. And so we seek.
My 3-year-old grandson, Lukas, could be a poster child for strong-willed boys. He often displays a temper as well as rock-solid stubbornness. When he sets his mind to something, there's no budging the mountain. And "Lukey-Dukey" is the stereotypical "all boy" in that he loves to wrestle.
My youngest grandson, Lukas also can be incredibly, even willfully sweet. Give him a bag of Skittles, a sack of fries, a bottle of a flavored drink — he promptly shares it with whoever is at the table. "Drink it," he says, as he shoves the bottle of slightly sour liquid at you. "It not sow-ah."