After soccer practice today Sweet’s called me. She said, “Dad, guess what?” “What?” I said, expecting the latest update on the recent drama she’s been experiencing with her friends. She said it again, “Guess what?” She really wanted a guess. “Your mom picked you up from practice.” “Yes. But that’s not it. It’s so cool.” That wasn’t what I was expecting her to say. I punted. “You’re going to have to tell me. I’m stumped!” She paused. “I scored a goal!” “A goal? Fantastic. Wow!” It was practice, yes. It’s also her first time playing soccer. She’s having fun. For that I’m grateful.
Later I ask about the day at school, and its related drama. “I learned that Mary thinks this, and Rose (not their real names) thinks that. It doesn’t make sense.” As she relays the stories it’s clear that they’re hard to experience again and again. At the same time, she’s beginning to learn that what’s going on isn’t about her. There may have been tears in school when she heard the latest gossip. By the time she returned home and said the words “it doesn’t make sense” she spoke them plainly, with a hint of disbelief. This isn’t over for her, not by any means. Still, if she can find this place enough times, she’ll be ok.
I listened to a rich talk today about family life, and what it teaches us about love. Michael Himes is a professor at Boston College, and gave the talk as part of BC’s student speaker series called Agape Latte. The talk is 25 minutes long and is worth watching. I played his closing comments several times over. They became a personal gif, and in that a mantra for prayer. Perhaps you’ll find them helpful, too:
“[W]hat family gives us an intimate chance to do, in circumstances that may be very supportive or very painful…[is] the opportunity to give ourselves, to learn how to give ourselves to one another wisely and courageously and with tremendous forgiveness and deep acceptance.
If you learn that, you’ve learned everything that you need to know. If you learn everything else and you never find that out, you’ve missed what it is to be a human being, because human beings are called to be the people who do what God is. God is agape, and we get to enact it. That is the most extraordinary statement about being a human being that I know.”