Egg shell shatters, a thousand pieces of white and son plays with blueberries. We’re making scones on a Saturday. He laughs as the purple fruit rolls; flour on his nose. Flour his father-in-law grows, wheat fallen, wheat dead and drug, stripped of stalk where once it swayed as though dancing.
Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies… says John. Flour slides into egg into butter into dough.
It’s a kind of grace, this. Making scones with my son on a Saturday. That all children could know …
I pick shell from batter, remember, the boys without mittens, the ones without hats walking frozen to Grandma’s house two hours away with their four bags of toys and their red clown noses and their daddy passed out in bed. The boys mother-in-law picked up and drove to Social Services. The boys who didn’t know anything was wrong except for it was so cold, so very cold.
Blueberries squish and son so small, and I wonder, how to break his heart, gentle?
To make his heart shatter, for those with less… For those without mittens or hats or daddies to run home to.
I wipe him clean in the shadows and he runs to play on toddler legs, and I roll dough into wedge of pie and sugar sprinkle. My grandmother says sugar keeps the dough from drying out.
He’s fallen now, against sharp edge. My womb drops and I run. Tears and blood and I kiss every baby fold and hold, hold, and he hushes and I cannot wipe away enough sad.
This, how Christ must feel when we cry; how the ground nestles wheat against soil-chest. This, what I hope to teach my son. This hug. This holding forever the hurt.
Yes, even as he straightens and smiles and forgets the pain, may he remember my arms. So that, when the world falls, he’ll drop everything to run, to reach, to be, with the broken.
Practical tips on how to inspire compassion in your children:
1. Sponsor a child and encourage the writing of cards, letters, the sending of gifts and the praying over photo on fridge.
2. Foster or adopt a child, and bring the broken world directly into your home.
3. Speak, at suppertime, of that day’s interactions, and how classmates were treated at school, and was this how Jesus would have treated them?
4. Guard your tongue as you speak of neighbor, friend and family member: speak only in love and grace, so little ones might emulate. When you slip up, confess this to your children, and explain why/how you were wrong.
5. Watch World Vision commercials and the Discovery channel as a family, and let your tears speak for you.
6. Donate food and time regularly as a family, to a local soup kitchen, shelter or nursing home.
7. Write cards or letters for those hurting in your church or neighborhood.
8. Make meals together, taking them to those in need.
9. Each year, encourage your children to go through their old stuffies and clothes and donate what they don’t need.
10. Each night, pray as a family through your Christmas cards, for the people who sent them.
(If you have other suggestions on how to inspire compassion in children, please share… thank you, friends)
By Emily Wierenga, Imperfect Prose