It’s Hannah’s turn now for a few days of Daddy Time and we’re up on a lake near Owen Sound, just my daughter and myself, swimming and gaming and doing plenty of things and then there is this moment.
It’s last night and it’s something to remember because Hannah, who is just 8, wants to read from her new little book of Word Search and Crosswords which, rather brilliantly, incorporates the sorts of stories that help shed some light on many things.
So Hannah chooses the story – The Good Neighbour – otherwise known as The Good Samaritan, and she reads it with some amount of struggle, but determination too, and I allow her to plow through it before we talk and share.
The story, well-known by some, is of this man who travels from one city to another on a dangerous road before he is mugged and beaten and stripped and robbed and finally left for dead on the side of the road.
Two spiritual leaders, one after the other, first a priest and then a Levite, walk past. One would expect them to stop and help – at least some spiritual leaders would – but in this case, neither do, no, there are too many other important matters of the day.
Finally a third man, a Samaritan, that is a man from a part of that ancient world that was despised, passes by. And he does stop.
And he then proceeds to clean and wrap the stranger’s wounds. He puts him up on his own donkey and gets him to an inn where the stranger then can heal. The Samaritan makes sure he has left enough money and even comes back later to check on the man who he doesn’t even know.
Hannah’s eyes are wide with each passing detail as we walk through it all. And then she goes to bed and I rub her back and kiss her goodnight.
And it’s all a moment because of this fact, because I had just come across this same story in the book I’m sharing occasional excerpts from, that is Leslie Leyland Fields’ book called Forgiving our Fathers and Mothers.
I’m sharing from the book because no mother or father is perfect, of course. More so, the truth is that plenty of children of all ages are out there not a lot different than the man beaten and robbed and left on the side of the road for dead.
As Leslie puts it:
“We recognize the first in the story. Isn’t it about us? … There we are! We start out, fresh and innocent, down the road. It’s a long trip … Everyone walks this road from childhood to adulthood. What harm could come? …
“It’s not long before it happens. From behind the rocks, through the darkest part of the valley, our assailants jump us. They steal our valuable, strip us of our clothes, and beat us, and we are there, bleeding, helpless, our journey interrupted – maybe ended altogether…
“People walk by, people who know they should stop and help, but they don’t. We are left alone in pain.”
“Do you see yourself in the story?” (p. 46)
But that’s not the end of it, Leslie notes. We are more than the victim. We might be one of the passersby. Or the victim, that poor man beaten and robbed, might, in fact, be someone besides you or I. He may be your, or my, mother. Or your, or my, father. Yes, our mother or father may be the one who started off in hope.
“They, too, were unprepared for the dangers that lay ahead. They too were unsuspecting, not knowing they were entering such danger.
[And] when we begin to look at them again, we can lift our heads. We can see they are there as well, bleeding, weak. They are as human, as fully human, and likely wounded as we are.” (p. 47)
It’s something to think about. Something very worthwhile.
And you too, Hannah.