Lazurus, Come Forth!

A few days ago I walked out into the living room and found my daughter, Elena, very upset and crying. I immediately went into inquisition mode and asked, “Did Ethan do something?” and “Did you hurt yourself?” Both inquiries recieved a head shaking “no”. Upon further investigation, however, I found that my profound, little existentialist had become so visibly shaken and upset because she had been contemplating death. Particularly she was thinking about how her grandpa had been laid in the ground, and from this inferred that one day I and Paula too would die. For her, this was the ultimate and final goodbye, a complete seperation from loved ones.

As I sat next to my daughter trying to figure out how to respond to her anguish I found myself at a loss for words. It’s not that the words weren’t forthcoming, as many possible responses came to mind, but as I processed them I quickly began to doubt whether they were appropriate for my six year old daughter. The responses were the result of my theological studies, responses that were sound with regards to orthodoxy yet steeped in theological language. As a consequence these responses were too sophisticated for my young daughter; moreover, I had doubts as to whether they were the kind of responses that could touch and minister to the human heart, regardless of age.

Fortunately, as I continued to sit with my daughter it came to me that I should read her a story, particularly John’s story of how Jesus raised Lazurus from the dead. As a preface to reading the story, I told Elena that John was a friend and follower of Jesus, and that he felt compelled to tell the world about Jesus because of what he had seen. As I read the story Elena listened intently and by the end she appeared visibly relieved. As a concluding reflection, I told Elena that one day Jesus would also call each of us by name, just like he did for Lazurus. In the end we sat on the couch and together we imagined Jesus one day saying, “Elena, Come forth!” “Anthony, Come forth!” “Paula, Come forth!”

2 Responses to “Lazurus, Come Forth!”

  1. Simon  

    That’s definitly one of those “awwww” stories. I think you should get a “Big fluffy Dad Award” for this post. 🙂

  2. Anthony Velez  

    After all was said and done, and I sat down to write about it, it did strike me that the way things turned out would make a good scene for a movie or a TV show. However, while I was dealing with her anguish it was a bit upsetting. Maybe this is more common among kids than I realize, but it surprised me that a six year old should be contemplating mortality. Of course Elena has dealt with the death of two grandparents, a great uncle, an aunt, and the knowledge that two pregnancies miscarried, and each time she was hoping for a sister.