Family: The Seed of the Tree
by Carlos Ruiz
As on every Monday morning, it was time to take a walk with my 9 months old son. I took the stroller and buckled the straps. I could see his innocent eyes fixated on me and it touched my heart. I realized that day that my son would go with me anywhere I wanted to take him without really having a choice in the matter. It really moved me to think that I had the privilege of exposing him to all the wonderful things in the world and, at the same time, I feared about the reality that he would be exposed to the heartbreaking situations that happen in this world as well.
I started walking on the sidewalk as I carefully pushed the stroller. He was taking a deep nap and the surrounding urban noise in the street did not seem to bother him at all. Then, as I crossed the street, all of the sudden I heard a terrible screeching noise at my side and saw a big truck sliding against my son and me. My reflexes were incredibly fast that all I could think of in the moment was to cross to the other side of the street and push the stroller with all the strength I had. I felt terrified that anything could happen to my baby and that we would be run over by this big truck that seemed to come against us. After all the pushing and the great discharge of adrenaline going through my veins, I turned my head towards the truck only to see two young men driving the truck with mocking faces, making noises and making their way screeching their tires with a sense of sick victory. They did not even care how close they were passing near the stroller I was holding, so scared. My son woke up with great confusion in his face. When I realized all this was part of a mean joke and all they wanted to do was to scare us, all my fear and caution turned into great anger. I noticed that my whole body was tense with anger; I wanted to swear, curse and make these irresponsible men pay for what they had done to us. I wanted to see them in jail for years.
As I walked back home angry and furious about the situation, little by little I could hear the Spirit whispering in my heart, asking me: why are you so angry and full of resentment? I kept thinking and reflecting and at some point it dawned on me that God was showing me once again that these two reckless young men in my mind were in great need of the love, affirmation and attention that perhaps in their childhood was denied to them. I started to ask questions like: “I wonder in what type of family they had been raised?” Perhaps their fathers had chopped their wings and killed their spirits with their abuse and rejection. I was amazed that compassion was starting to emerge in my spirit for these two guys that clearly, in the words of Jesus, did not know what they were doing. I thought that these two men had learned to devalue and mock what they perhaps had not received in their families when they were children. A father pushing a stroller was a big enough trigger, making them act out in such a reckless and foolish way towards fathers and babies. I kept meditating on the way our families shape us, and how God keeps calling us to minister seriously to families that are about to disintegrate. I also became aware of how the systemic forces of injustice are very powerful; not showing mercy toward all people and especially toward non-white people in the U.S.
We need to start with the children, dedicating our time to them, loving them, playing with them, forming life giving and inspiring relationships so they can absorb the love and new life that Jesus Christ offers. I am so convinced that during my lifetime I want to let God’s kingdom come by strengthening my own family in his Spirit and then help strengthen other families. This starts by loving the children and challenging the powers and structures that hold thousands of families’ captive to the power of violence. That day, walking my son God spoke to me and made me see that in loving a child and embracing them as Jesus did, not only do I enable and empower them to be life-giving agents for our world, but it also hinders the work of the enemy in many now bitter, lost adults. As someone once said: "It is easier to build up and embrace little children than try to repair broken adult people."