Out of no where he turned to me with a concerned look on his face, as if a troublesome thought was stuck in his little head. Usually this means some apparent paradox is trying to work its way to resolution.
“What’s wrong, buddy?” I asked.
“Dad,” he asked slowly. “Why did God make that poisonous tree with the poisonous apples so that everybody would get hurt and scared?”
I think any parent likes to see their child connecting the dots, but there was something about this question that made me want to sigh, to pull him up into my lap and rock him to sleep.
“That’s a good question,” I said. “Why do you think he made it?”
“I don’t know,” he said. Then after a long pause he said, “But if he hadn’t made that tree, it sure would be heaven down here.”
His voice was filled with the most tremendous sense of regret, as if he somehow appreciated how different our world would be if heaven was here, if there had never been any poisonous apples to wrench earth from the grasp of paradise.
* * * * *
What can we do in the face of such tremendous regret?
This longing for things to be better, for peace, for a world without poisonous apples…I want to cultivate this in my son, in all of my children. During a time when cynicism and sarcasm and pessimism are the acceptable tones, the common language, I want him to find hope. To give hope.
I want to teach him to pray with sincerity, “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
* * * * *
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