Some people are luckier than others — when they hear of God as a Father they have a positive image in their heads. I am not as lucky. No positive image. But how do you get to know Him as the Father if you don’t know what it means?
In my case God has come up with a trick — He made me a father, thrice. And my fatherhood seems to have become a window into His Fatherhood. After all, if we, who are evil, can give good gifts to our children, how much more can He who loves me…
Here’s a quick story about how this divine “trick” is working. When my daughter, Vyeta, was about 5 we visited our good friends in Novosibirsk. The first night we were there she woke up screaming: “I am having a thunderstorm in my ear!” As we examined her ears we saw a couple of antennae sticking out. It’s an insect, we instantly guessed — the apartment we stayed at was on the 1st floor and it was a warm summer night.
We called the emergency and, after waiting for 40 minutes, an apathetic-looking guy informed us that he had no tools at hand to remove the insect. He suggested taking Vyeta to an emergency room so I decided to go with her and Inna, my wife, stayed home with the other child. The thing in her ear seemed to have calmed down, and Vyeta felt ok. As we were riding the city streets in the emergency car I had her on my lap telling her stories, holding her tight, showing her the shiny lights that we were passing by. When we came to the emergency room, the doctor deftly pulled the little beast out of her ear. It was a Diplura.
“The third one this night”, he said dropping the insect into one of his many plastic containers. “You may go”. We looked at each other, smiled and headed out. It was 4 a.m. but we decided to walk home. We strolled down the empty streets just touched with the first gleam of dawn, chatting about this and that and enjoying the morning.
Some will say it’s better to forget experiences like that. But, you know, those few hours in the middle of the night when Vyeta was little and helpless and I was so close to her, well up in my memory as precious. We developed strong bonds that night which translated into a deeper trust in each other. I was whispering funny things into her unaffected ear, patting her hair, telling her stories about that poor bug that must have lost its way home and strayed into a strange hole.
I held her hand as we walked into the doctor’s office. Later, when the trial was over, we walked along the sleepy streets as if nothing bad had happened, and this early morning time together seemed like a gift to us. I doubt that we will have another chance to walk the streets of Novosibirsk at 4 am in the middle of June.
Of course, no one wants to suffer. But those several hours when I was so close to her, I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. Those were precious moments.
Sometimes I wonder if it was just my experience, not hers. So one day I asked Vyeta about it — when she was much older. She didn’t remember that particular night but she remembered another, a couple of years ago when she was down with some form of allergy. She was itchy all over and couldn’t sleep. So I decided to stay up with her. We talked well into the night and then watched one of our favorite movies till she was so tired she could not keep her eyelids open. “But it was great!” she confessed.
Where is God when I am having a Diplura in my ear? Now I know. He’s put me on His lap, holding me tight and is telling me stories about our happy tomorrow. He’s telling me that all will be well, holding my hand and explaining what we will be doing when the trouble is over. I am in His arms and He’s not leaving, period.
Most likely He’s doing more than I know. Evil as I am, I can give good gifts to my children, how much more He… He must be treasuring those few hours of being very close to me as a gift which no happy times can afford. Well, the bug is still in our ear, the allergy is still giving us a hard time, but we know He will never leave, till the end. And looking back, we see that during those few hours of night, a strange but strong bond developed between us that no time can break.
And when the morning comes, we will go strolling around the city. The empty streets will meet us with the rich leafy scent of summer. We will be chatting all along and when we get home we will jump right into bed and sleep till lunchtime. Looking back to those moments in the years to come we will see them as blessed moments of intimacy, the encounter with Love Itself.