Matt Archbold graduated from Saint Joseph’s University in 1995. He is a former journalist who left the newspaper business to raise his five children. He writes for the Creative Minority Report.
Blogging can be easy. You read a hundred stories of tragedies, public shortcomings and sins and you pick the most outrageous to write on. But it can really wear you down after a while. I gets so I just want to read some good news sometimes. Sadly, those stories always seem a little more difficult to find. I’m kinda’ like Lot searching for the one righteous man. But Lot didn’t have a blog.
So yesterday, I grabbed my three year old in the afternoon and we walked hand in hand to our neighborhood 7-11 just to give my poor bloggin’ head a break. She couldn’t decide between an Icee and a candy bar. The decision was much too much for her. It was like Sophie’s Choice for three year olds. While I waited I looked down at the newspaper in the rack. The headlines detailed murders, wars, Church scandals and crooked politicians. I sometimes think that newspapers could run the same stories every day and just fill in different names and datelines – like Mad Libs for pessimists. It can get downright depressing.
While my little girl agonized over the great candy bar/Icee quandary, I filled my Super Big Gulp. (OK, so we’re not health nuts.) But it was then that a bouncy giggly ponytailed little girl bounced and giggled up the chips aisle towards the Icee machine. She was, I’d guess, about the same age as my daughter, and she sang a nonsensical triumphant song on the way that children alone can conjure, “Iceeeeeeee. Icee. Icee. Iceeeeeeeeeee!”
Distracted by the ice churning sounds and the neon promise of sugary awesomeness served at sub-zero temperatures in seven natural-ish flavors, the little girl rounded the rack of newspapers sooooo close to the sharp corner. Her father, walking behind her, darted his hand out quickly between the girl’s head and the corner of the rack in order to cushion the blow in case her head hit it. He did it without thinking. It was instinctive. He did it like it was something he’d done thirty times that day already. And he might have. (She was very giggly and bouncy.)
He cringed in expectation of the collision, but the little girl’s head juuuuuust narrowly missed the sharp corner of the newspaper rack and she bounced and giggled away towards the Icee machine, unaware of her father’s protection.
I sometimes think that it’s little moments like this that stay God’s hand.
The man looked up at me, shook his head and smiled. I laughed and nodded back in understanding. I’ve got five giggly bouncers, and I’ve noticed just about every sharp corner along the way. (It’s the ones you didn’t see that keep you up at night.)
But I’ve come to think that maybe that’s our job. We know we can’t guide our children much once they’re out of the stroller, so we just try to get our hand between them and the sharp corners of the world to cushion the blow. Just a little. Maybe that’s all we can do.
Some might say that children have to learn about sharp corners and there’s only one way for that to happen. But I can’t help but think there’s no shortage of sharp corners in the world and my hands aren’t as fast as they used to be. My children will experience pain no matter what I do. There have been broken arms already and I’m sure there’ll be broken hearts. But if I can help to cushion the blow just a little, I’ll do what I can for as long as I can. If they can bounce and giggle a little while more, a little while longer, I’ll do what I can.
I’ve come to accept that any moment not acting out of love is wasted. I’ve come to think that even though the headlines of newspapers incessantly detail wars, murders, and crooked politicians, there is love and there are miracles in abundance if we’re willing to look.
Love may not be the exception after all. Thousands of women give birth to babies every day, and we should rejoice in them as much as we are saddened by wars and abortion. Sons and daughters care for and feed their elderly parents every day, and we should sing about that as much as we weep over euthanasia.
Love still exists. Maybe it’s a little harder to find than it used to be, but maybe sightings have always been elusive. We typically won’t find them in the headlines. But love is out there in homes and churches and hospitals and libraries and right next to the Icee machine. Love can be found. It wants to be found. And sometimes I wonder if we’re just not looking for it enough.
If Lot were still looking for that one righteous man, I’d suggest starting in the chips aisle right between the Icee machine and the newspaper rack with the sharp corner.
And in case you’re wondering, my little girl opted for the Icee. And we sang “Iceeeeeee. Icee. Iceee. Iceeeeee” all the way home.