(First published February 28, 2014)
My friend sent me an email.
“This is hard for me, to be quiet and still. I feel like my prayer life is like a paper route. I lob prayers to God, much like the paper carrier lobs papers down the street, but I keep moving, and forget to listen for the response. The paper carrier just keeps rolling – and I do too. That’s my quest, to slow down enough to be still, and to have a conversation, not just one-sided interactions.”
I sat quietly after I read this, stunned into silence by the power of the image. And then I could see our paperboy son rolling up the evening paper after school. News that someone else had reported and edited and printed. News that wasn’t his. The job called for speed and accuracy. But no one really wanted to talk to the paper carrier.
I remember years later when he interned with the same paper, stories of games he reported being tossed by other paper carriers at other houses and at ours. It was pretty exciting to have his byline on our front porch. But most other houses didn’t care much. They wanted the scores, not the storyteller.
But for us, more than watching him roll papers, more than having him write, is the delight of having him sit in our living room, sit at the table, laugh and cry and listen and talk in our family room, fall asleep on the sofa. To be comfortable and accepting of the relationship of family.
As I wrote that last sentence, I thought of another story of father and son, the one where a son had behaved badly toward his dad. All the way home he rehearses his speech: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. Let me just be one of your hired hands.” His dad never lets him finish. Instead he pulls him into the house. “Forget the speech, let’s stop and eat together.”
Yep. Like that.