Friday, April 30, 2010


I received a letter from Anita last week. Anita is a long time friend of mine and she has a granddaughter who is seven years old and her name is Emma. Anita often writes about her grandchildren. They bring her a lot of joy. She closed the letter with a little story about Emma. “I was playing a game on the floor with Emma,” she wrote. “In the midst of the game, she suddenly wrapped her arms around me tightly, said that she loved me so much she was going to faint, and then flopped over. It does not get much better than that.”

The heart of a child is impetuous. The Thesaurus gives these other meanings of the word: Impulsive, rash, hasty, hotheaded, reckless, unthinking, sudden, spontaneous.

I have heard these same words applied to Saint Peter. The gospels are rich in these traits of his – jumping out of the boat on the Sea of Galilee and then sinking when he loses faith. Telling Jesus that he loves him, again and again. He was a man who jumped to conclusions a bit too fast, and often they were the wrong ones, but he always had a change of heart and came back.

He is a good model for what is so weak and human and loveable in each of us.

I do not know what Emma will be when she grows up. I hope she never loses her spontaneity of heart. It will help her enjoy the game, and will also help us better understand the heart of Peter, a man much loved by the Lord.

At certain levels, the church moves with caution through history and it moves slowly. At other levels, far below the level of the elevated throne of Peter, it can and does move with haste, for there are those who in the midst of the game will wrap their arms around the world and flop over with love. Overcome as they are by love, they let go of the need to win, to be right, to be on the cutting edge. They keel right over with love, then get up and move back into the game of life. They are the church. And it does not get much better than that.

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