She hefts the Holy Bible with the picture on front to the breakfast table alongside the tomatoes and eggs, and flaps open the book.
I take a bite of Juliet tomatoes, and watch my 9-year-old thumb through the pages until she lands on an image of a painting of Jesus, standing with a well-adorned young man.
May I read it? She asks.
Of course you may, I say.
She reads aloud in her best speaking voice a parable about a rich young ruler. It is the same young man in the painting who inquires of the Lord what he must do to inherit eternal life.
Christ’s answer, to give all his riches to the poor, stuns everyone who hears it, but it is something else that catches my ear. It is a holy pause this Master takes before he even begins to speak.
I ask my daughter to hand me the book so I could see it and read it again.
“Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and (then) said unto him one thing thou lackest.”
Could this be true? I ask. Does this Prince of Life, this Great Law Giver as he was known, first see, truly witness, and then love the totality of this man’s heart before he gives his answer to the law? Does he know with clarity the seeker’s greatest flaw and his noble sacrifices too, and choose compassion first, instead of condemnation?
From what I can see it appears to be so.
My husband takes my plate and my daughter finally eats her boiled egg and I begin thinking.
“How often do I take a holy pause to first “behold with love” each seeker in life who stands before me before I speak or judge? How anxious am I to “lay down the law” of my personal opinion, silently or aloud, particularly towards those I find lacking one needful thing? How might social media and comment boards, family reunions and city hall, and all those who profess to be Christians but dismiss, exclude and excoriate entire peoples who see not as they see, change as a result of this fresh pair of eyes? This simple, holy inhale of honor before the grand exhale of expression?
I don’t know, but I shall pluck some lavender from my garden for the table, and take a beholding breathe for each of you. Farewell.