Last night the kids had been in bed for a while and I was reading when our bedroom door opened and Zack asked, “Can you rock me?” I’ve decided that the answer to that question will always be “Yes.”
We have our little routine. Out in the living room Zack turns off the light while I grab a throw and find the rocking chair with the least amount of junk to move out of the way. As I ease myself into the chair, he snuggles against me and I wrap him up in the throw. We start rocking.
Sometimes I hum Brahm’s Lullabye over and over. Sometimes Zack tells me something that went on that day or something he’s been thinking about – like a new idea for a cartoon. Other times we don’t say a word. If I think of it, he likes to have his head rubbed.
After five or ten minutes Zack will indicate that he’s ready to go back to bed. Or not. The last part of the routine is for me to carry him to the foot of the ladder going up to his bed.
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Zack is 12. He’s a great kid – athletic, confident, kind, smart, lots of friends. I don’t take it for granted for a minute that he would still look to me as a source of comfort. It means the world to me that he does.
I think that these times with Zack (and Lauren when she was younger) offer my clearest pictures of a father’s love. There’s no duty in it. No business is transacted. We’re not talking about things we need or want. No need to watch the clock or rush off to the next event. It’s not a time for discipline or teaching. The only agenda is presence – the simple enjoyment and reassurance of being with one we trust completely. Now and again I have an almost-physical sense of transferring my love directly to Zack. And he’s just soaking it up – that’s all.
The scriptures make it clear that the love I have for my kids is only a dim reflection of the love that God has for me. It helps me – it moves me – to consider that I am a son, and that I have a father who loves me even more wholeheartedly and extravagantly than I love my kids. Sure, God wants me to understand and to do many things, but the starting point is always, always that he wants me to be assured of his love – like Zack does when he wants to be rocked.