If I could give our three year old anything to satisfy his greatest desire, it would be simply this – the time and space for me to be fully his. We would play the game of his choosing and he would giggle. We would drop everything and run outside whenever he remembered how much he wanted to play golf in the garage. Then he would lead me by the hand through the house with his eyes bright, taking in all the options that now shone bright for I was his.
When he loses his composure, whether from sleepiness, hunger, or sadness about some limitations, the words come tumbling from his little three-year-old lips – “I just want to be with you.“
My ability to just be with him has its limitations. During the week, there are school bus stops to reach, meals to prepare, schoolwork to do, conference calls to lead, laundry to fold, and now baby brother to feed, change, and hold.
I know that I will never be able to satisfy his longing for constant presence and companionship. And that is not reason for “mommy guilt” or parental shaming. It is because he is a human being created for eternal companionship. This longing will lead him to learn the complex, nuanced human relationship. This longing will launch him into the hard work of community. This longing will pull him towards a relationship with the Divine – the triune God whose three beings are, in their very nature, companionship and presence.
Amidst my theological and ecclesial studies, he keeps me grounded in the most essential truth – that God reveals God’s self most powerfully not in eloquent words, effective strategies, or complex doctrine but in the gift of companionship and presence.
For at the end of the day, it is my heart’s desire – just to have One who is with me. For the One who is with me knows me and yet still chooses to remain by my side. The One who is with me is willing to forgive the day’s blunders and grant hope that a new day will rise tomorrow. But even more profoundly, the One who is with me might be able to lead me beyond where I could have taken myself.
What will I do with this Divine Companion whose birth I celebrated just a few months ago? Will I drag the Divine Companion around through my wants, desires, and to-do list? Or will I remember that I do not set the agenda for God’s action in the world? Will I offer up my hand to be led, my heart to be formed, and my life to be given? Will I be able to grow as Mary did, moving from cradling the infant to letting the growing boy lead the way – to life, to death, and back again?
When the Sabbath arrives and I silence the urgency of life’s tasks, may I grant our son his deepest desires by giving my whole self to be with him. In so doing, may I see him for who he is – a prophet inviting me to follow once again.