Thursday, May 10, 2007

To A Cherry Made of Glass

Glass objects have always held a fascination for me. But I did not indulge in collecting useless glass kitsch until my youngest child turned three. Thinking that I can slowly begin to indulge in found objects to adorn my home now that my children were no longer grabby toddlers, I purchased a set of five glass cherries with long delicate glass stems. They were most intriguing because although they were made of glass, they did resemble the real things. My little daughter took particular interest in this and I would often spy her inspecting each piece with a raw curiosity worthy of Sherlock Holmes. One day, I spied her kneeling by the table and then softly placing her head next to the cherries as she inspected them. Finally, as she began to place her fingers around the thin stem, I intercepted and showed her how to touch the cherries so that the thin stems don't snap into pieces.

"Hold them this way," I said. "Hold them by the base not by the stem."

We practiced doing this for a time until I was satisfied that she understood. She was an impressive old soul with knowing eyes. I was sure that she got the idea.

I few weeks later, as I was doing the dishes, little Hannah came into the kitchen crying inconsolably. Etched on her face was the look of pain and anguish. Extending one sweet arm, she held out a piece of a glass stem and on the other, a stem-less cherry.

My first instinct was to scream out a well worn cliche: How many times do I have to tell you to.... . Well, you can just fill in the blanks. I wanted to wail. I wanted to give in to anger. As her lips trembled to speak, a voice inside my head urgently but with great clarity urged me to pause. In a split second, I made the decision to listen. I do remember that I had no idea what to do...or say. And yet, I wanted to surrender to this sweet spirit that urged me to stop. As I stalled to wait for more instructions, I took my little daughter in my arms and carried her to our favorite rocking chair. I asked her "who mommy loves more than cherries, or houses, or things" and she answered each question with her name. Then it became clear to me what needed to be said. As the fog in my head cleared, we talked about how our Heavenly Father loves us more than anything that He put on this beautiful planet...more than the moon and stars that He placed in the skies to adorn it. He loves us more than the breathtaking sunsets or awe-inspiring sunrises. He loves us more than the seas or the mountains that give our planet form and movement. He loves us more than the majestic animals or graceful birds that roam and beautify our earth.

We try to fill our homes with objects that please our eyes and things that we pronounce good. Trite as it may sound, I know Heavenly Father loves us because He did the same for the world we live in. And also like little children, as we sometimes haplessly or selfishly make mistakes, He nevertheless puts His arms around us and loves us just the same. And though our frailties may render us blind or oblivious to His deep and abiding love, His love for us is boundless and unrelenting. Many lessons were learned that day as I held my little girl in my arms. Many thoughts seeped into my head...thoughts of love for a small child, flesh of my flesh now cuddled contentedly in my arms; thoughts of worlds without end created just for man; thoughts of a Heavenly Father who longs for His children.

A mother and child rocked and pondered in loving silence for a time, basking in the sweet spirit that now enveloped their hearts and minds. What potentially could have been an unpleasant scene with consequences that I dare not even consider, thankfully turned into a celestial moment. I do not remember if my little Hannah will remember the details of this event. But I am confident that she will remember and feel how much love I felt for her that day. And if I can be vigilant and careful enough as I mother this wonderful spirit, we will have more moments like this---when mother and child can be assured that the bonds that draw them together were spun and woven in a place we call Heaven.

"Hannah, every time you look at this broken cherry, it will be a token for you to remember that mommy loves you more than anything in the world."

After our tears were dried and our spirits calmed, we placed the broken cherry among the perfect ones. It seemed to project more dignity than the rest. It was beautiful to me. None of the perfect cherries carried any significance but our broken cherry held a memory of love that extends into the eternities.