I have a pretty good memory. No, I can't always remember where I put my wallet or the five million little notes I've strewn throughout the house. But there are some moments and events that leave me with powerful and long-lasting images. Last week, I added another one to my collection.
I was driving along the road with my boys in the back seat. Up ahead, I could see the traffic was slowing down. "Are we approaching the section of road that's supposed to be closed today?" I wondered to myself. I wasn't too familiar with this area, so I was preparing myself for what direction the upcoming detour would take me.
I quickly learned there was no detour at all, but a scene that will be forever etched into my heart and my mind. A deer sat on the side of the road, a towel covering her head and blood streaming from her head/mouth, with a woman standing guard beside her, waiting for the help that was just arriving on the opposite side of the street.
I saw it all so quickly, as I was in the midst of a line of a couple of cars and had to keep moving (albeit a bit slower than one would ususally drive here) so as not to cause another accident. Yet one of the things that immediately came to mind was,"Is Jacob looking? How can I divert his attention before he sees what's happening?" I didn't want him to see the suffering of the deer. I didn't know what I would say to him. I didn't want him to see my face as I choked back my tears, not wanting to upset him. Thankfully (for me) Jacob was oblivious to what was happening. He was sitting there innocently looking ahead. He didn't see the deer. He didn't even notice me crying or hear me quietly praying for the deer and the woman watching over her.
But was my reaction was on the right track? Of course, we want to protect our young children from experiences that could be harmful or detrimental to their growth. Was this one of those experiences? Perhaps this could have been an experience which deepened his love and empathy for animals. Perhaps this could have given us an opportunity to talk about how God's intention was for life and not for death.
Yet when I looked back at my boys, still so young and fragile, my heart ached as I thought of how, little by little, their innocence will be eroded. They will have to come face-to-face with all kinds of struggles and sufferings, and eventually, death, in their lives. Shouldn't we aim to shelter them and preserve their innocence for as long as possible?
I don't know. There certainly are no easy answers. It's during these times when I am reminded of how helpless and lost we are without God. Sometimes, all we can do is cry out, "Lord have mercy."