I heard a story recently in church about a teenaged daughter who asked her father if she could
take his new car for a ride promising to be careful. Unfortunately, she is cut off while driving and ploughs into a tree. Thank God the priest says she is not seriously injured.
While her family members express alarm, the young woman is most concerned about her father’s negative reaction. However, when he sees her, the father only says he is overjoyed that his loved one is not seriously injured.
This positive attitude is not easily achievable. But perhaps the wise father (or mother) knows that their child is not remotely reckless and that ultimately harshly condemning the daughter cannot undo the accident. The insurance and repair costs may rise but perhaps the daughter will remember her parent’s forgiving attitude more than the accident itself. After all, the above parental reaction is not typical because it is natural for us to criticize what we may consider poor judgement. Emotions may easily over-rule our thoughts and the harsh words may flow.
Hence , the parent figure above acts like God does. He/ She is delighted that the child averts a terrible tragedy especially since we are all very vulnerable in this sometimes violent world. This family will experience what Henri Nouwen calls the “hidden joys” that only the family and small circle of relatives and friends may only know about. For example, I have seen handicapped children -with numerous health issues -undertake therapeutic horse-back riding. On one occasion, a little girl who could not walk very well raises her hands to the heavens and cries in pure delight “I can ride. I can ride!!” All the volunteers present that day rejoiced like the father or mother above because of the infectious joy of the youngster. While the world is filled with so much sadness, may we rejoice by delighting in the small joys expressed by others.