“I need somebody.”
Our three-year-old son David’s words barely penetrated the chatter of our beach party. “I neeeed somebody,” he cried again, much louder this time so that we all looked over in alarm to see what had happened. Sobbing, David pointed at the bonfire, where I saw his trousers lying, one pant leg already burned. Earlier, David had gotten them wet playing tag with the surf, so we had taken them off him and stuck a pole in the woodpile, one end of which could hold the trousers over the fire to dry. Attempting to climb the stack of firewood, David had jiggled his pants loose and they had fallen into the flames. There was nothing that could be done for them now. All I could do was put my arm around my son and hug. He stopped crying and we watched in fascination as the trousers disappeared in smoke.
Thinking about this later, I realize that much of life occurs the way it did that night on the beach. Most often there is nothing we can do about the thrills and tragedies, big or small, that accompany life. But when they happen, a little compassion can make a huge difference. We are here to love each other. When that happens, it is the closest thing to heaven we can create on Earth.