I’m not really on paternity leave but, it should be admitted, I’ve not been at my most productive these past couple of days. My wife calls, I’m ready to leap into action, but it’s just a call about a piece of shopping. Twiddle, twiddle, twiddle. Sort out the filing, clear out the piles of papers that have been accumulating in the corners of my office for really far too long…
Children teach the message that life operates out of one’s ability to control it. It’s not just the run up to birth; it’s life in its fullest panoply of colour and texture. Parents tend to want, and I make no claim to be exceptional in this regard, children to make their own considered decisions to do precisely the things we, as parents, would most want them to do. And life rarely works that way. The only consolation (and it is a mighty consolation) is that this is not a new problem. Not only have I done this to my parents, and so on, it’s also God’s problem – the problem of free will.
God wants human beings do precisely what God wants them to do, through the exercise of free choice. God wants fidelity grounded in love, God doesn’t want to compel obedience, but opening oneself up to the vagaries of a child’s predilection, or human exercise of freedom of choice runs the risk of disobedience, disappointment. As an increasing number of dictators across North Africa are finding out, it could be that compulsion could score some short-term victories. But over a longer-term the relationship between a people and their leader, a people and their God, or a child and their parent, has to be grounded in love and acceptance that people make their decisions in their own sweet good time.
So be it,
Twiddle, twiddle, twiddle
Chag Sameach – just in case I’m not around much over Shavuot.