“Me do it!” Aedan and Maayana were spending an early evening with us; Aedan settled down to running cars over a long pair of bridges he set up on our coffee tables, while Maayana started play with the Duplo. She decided to lay the track for the Duplo train; as she struggled to connect the last two pieces and complete the circle, Aedan moved in and laid those pieces of track. With a cry of fury, Maayana ripped up the pieces and several of those she had laid, with “Me do it!” whilst Aedan looked bemused. Aedan tried to relay the track, only to see it ripped up; after two attempts, we persuaded Aedan not to even attempt the task. Maayana settled to laying her track, and Aedan was encouraged to make her a train to run on her track, which Maayana accepted, at least initially.
Aedan returned to playing with his cars and bridges, but Maayana decided to ‘join’ his game, knocking over one of the bridges. We guided Maayana into playing with her dolly, and she took the toy to Diane, carefully walking behind the two tables and bridges until she was level with Diane, but separated by the bridges. With apparent surprise, she observed that she had “no way to Gramma” and began to walk through the bridges, her eyes gleaming. A sharp retort from both Grandparents averted disaster and Maayana retraced her steps before taking dolly to Diane, Aedan recovered his composure and continued his game.
It may well be that Aedan has brought Maayana’s actions on himself: when she was younger, he would regularly change the toy she was playing with for the toy he didn’t want in exchange for her toy – she couldn’t retaliate as she couldn’t move, but as he has since discovered, she has a very long memory. Aedan, we observed, was trying to help Maayana, even though the help was unwanted and seen as interfering, whilst Maayana took some delight in distrupting Aedan’s game; a few days later, when Maayana was happily playing, all her key dolly pieces were being hidden – by Aedan! On other occasions, they will happily play together without problem.
Aedan and Maayana exhibited all three main categories of friction, the first being misunderstood and unwanted help, a miscommunication seen as interfering on one hand and rejection on the other. The second is a self-centred world view where everything exists for you and your needs, with the inevitable consequences for the needs and rights of others. The third is simply the desire to hurt each other, at a low level called mischief, but running into some very unpleasant actions at the high end. If you can’t recognise these actions in the adult world – and in even yourself – then I can only say you live in a different world to me and the rest of those I know, and you may find a queue of people wanting to join your world (bringing theirs with them!). In different forms, we see here the universal nature of sin.
I have been struck this Easter by the deep strand of forgiveness running through the Easter narrative. On Maundy Thursday, Jesus tells the disciples they will deny and betray him, but immediately comforts them with the words, “Let not your hearts be troubled, believe in God, believe also in me.” (The Bible, John 14.1) and goes on to assure them and us of a place in heaven. From the cross itself, his first recorded words are “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (The Bible, Luke 23.34) as he implores the Father not to bring justice on those who have rightly incurred his wrath. Likewise, his second recorded word is to the brigand crucified next to him, who in a moment of soaring faith has seen in the dying man next to him a king coming into his kingdom and petitions the king to effectively absolve his sin and welcome him into his kingdom. Jesus responds with “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23.43) Jesus looks from the agony of the cross upon the fallen and divisive humanity who have nothing to offer other than miscommunication, selfishness and maliciousness – and makes it the centre piece of forgiveness.
Even following his resurrection, Jesus continues these words of forgiveness – his first words to the gathered disciples are “Peace to you” (Luke 24.36) the translation of ‘Shalom’, which is far from the peace of inactivity, but rather the active peace of forgiveness and restoration, a peace which is enabled to seize the world in all its brokenness and heal it. In our miscommunication, selfishness and downright malice, Jesus steps in with a lasting peace and reconciliation; it is the Easter message of both the cross and the resurrection, and it is a message for you.
In all the travails and missed opportunities of this world, may you know this Eastertide the deep peace of Jesus, bought at the price of his death on the cross.
Your servant in the Lord Jesus Christ,