The old man sat alone. He didn’t care about this family gathering. He didn’t know why they insisted on including him. He just wanted to be left alone.
He sat in his chair, apart from everyone, and wished they would go away. Let them have their life. They’ll find out soon enough.
He took no pleasure in people. Jobs, friends, family – all had failed him. The constant disappointments had knocked him down so many times he no longer had the strength or desire to rise again. Life was hard. But it was even harder with people. Better to be alone than to risk more pain.
So he sat in his chair, across the room from everyone else, daring with his demeanor for anyone to approach him.
And most respected his wish. They watched him from a distance, and discussed their concerns with each other. He knew they did because he could hear them. Occasionally someone would approach him. “Do you want anything to eat?” “Are you cold?” “How are you doing?”
Only they didn’t really want to know how he was doing. They didn’t really want to connect to the real him. To know him deep down. To accept him as he was, and not in comparison to their idea of how he should be.
Until the child.
She was young, only a couple of years old. Not old enough to read people’s body language. And so she ignored his grumpy look. She stood there, holding on to the arm of his chair with both of her tiny hands, and looking up at him.
He tapped his finger in annoyance where it lay a little further up the arm than her hands. She tapped her finger. He frowned. Was it a coincidence?
He tapped two fingers. She tapped two fingers. It hadn’t been a coincidence.
He lifted his hand and put it back down. She lifted her hand and put it back down. He was intrigued now.
He put both hands on the chair arm, and wiggled his fingers. She wiggled her fingers, both hands already being on the arm.
He lifted both hands and crossed them before putting them back down. She frowned in concentration as she lifted both hands and crossed them, struggling just a bit with her developing coordination, to put them back down just like his. “Hmmm….” He nodded his head. “She’s okay. Smart.”
He felt a growing connection with her. Here was someone more interested in joining him and what he was doing, than in him joining her and what she was doing. Maybe he could take a chance one more time.
He lifted his hand, and smiled at her.
1 Peter 4:8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.