He stood in front of her desk with steady regard. Mrs. Sonne looked at the big gray eyes and the drooping lips. Here was a man in trouble, perhaps in need of a handout?
“Good afternoon, Benny. How are you today?”
Disregarding the formalities he burst out, “He called me a norful beast, but I’m not a beast, am I? I’m a hooman bean, narn’t I?
It was a desperate appeal, tinged with rebellion, anchored in right.
“Yes, Benny, you are a human being.” Mrs. Sonne hesitated. What had this human being done to be accused of being an awful beast? Sidestepping the issue she asked, “Did you enjoy the weekend? How did Terence do in his new yacht?”
Before Benny could formulate his reply his father stepped out of his office. He regarded the six year old with unsmiling disfavor.
He took up the question. “Terence did very well, Mrs. Sonne. So did Judith and her friend, Joy. The weather was perfect – everything was perfect, and I took photographs of them all.”
His tone was bitter. Mrs. Sonne was nonplussed.
“That sounds good – you will all have fun going over them later.”
“Would have had.” His tone was emphatic. “I put the camera on top of the wardrobe until I could use the last two frames and then get it developed. BUT …” his face hardened again, “but that little beast climbed up and opened the camera …”
Benny protested, “But I only wanted to see the photos …”
His father turned away, striding across the showroom. Tears welled in the big gray eyes and Benny repeated disconsolately, “I only wanted to see the photos.”
Mrs. Sonne held the bubble of laughter firmly inside herself. A keen photographer herself she had a foot in each camp. Poor little boy …
“Benny,” she offered a tissue, “you can’t see the photos immediately they are taken. When you opened the camera the light destroyed all the photos on the film. It has to be opened in the dark and the film has to be especially developed and then printed, and only then can you see the photographs. That is why your Dad is so upset. Can you understand?”
He nodded, tearing the tissue to shreds. “I didn’t know. I thought I could see them first.”
“Well,” she offered, “you’ll have to remember it next time. And now try not to do anything else to upset your Dad. Yes, he is cross with you because you opened the camera, but really he is much more upset because he has lost all the photographs he was hoping to keep. Did you know you were not supposed to touch the camera?”
He nodded reluctantly. “That’s why he put it on top of the wardrobe.”
“So you were naughty.”
His under-lip pouted and she added hastily, “I know you just wanted to see the photos, but if you knew you weren’t supposed to touch the camera you were naughty. And you are a human being, and human beings are often naughty.”
She sighed, thinking of her own children. Holding out a fresh tissue she removed the shreds from the twining fingers.
“Dry your eyes, Benny, and come round here. As there are no photographs to show me you will have to draw me a picture of Terence in his yacht.”
She smiled at the earnestly bent head, fingers busily expiating his sin, while considering the importance of being human. Her lips twitched with the sudden thought of how Adam might have reacted if God had called him an “awful beast” for his transgression!
Human beings, descendants of Adam, repeatedly caught in the same transgression, repeatedly protesting our humanity, repeatedly qualifying our misdeeds, our sins. All of us offered the pardon of mercy, the son-ship of grace. All of us offered the ability of the Holy Spirit to live forgiven, sin free lives as the children of God.
Just as Benny’s father would again smile at his son and lay his hand in blessing on his head, so our Father, God, smiles at us and lays His hand of blessing on our lives. Human beings, being human, we so desperately need the Divine.
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