Advent: In This Uncertain Age…(December 15, 2008, Page Two)

…there is the story of the little boy who did not have the gift.

    What gift?

   Any gift, no gift, some gift, this or that or the other gift.

   Name the gift. He lacked it.

   He could not sing well or run fast. He could think, some, but not well, not much more than "get in from the rain," or "the rain is that wet stuff falling on you." He was not ugly but he was not handsome. He could not carry heavy loads or devise ways to get others to keep large loads off of him.

   The little boy lacked the gift. He lacked it from birth or from the womb or at the moment of conception. His parents were reasonably capable people. His siblings could all do something well and most other things acceptably.

   He was from them but he could not be like them.

   "Whatever will become of him?" his mother asked his father one night on their pillow.

   "We will have to keep him with us always," his protective father said.

   "I know, I know," his mother thought out loud and, not for the first time, cried herself to sleep.

   The most outrageous element of the little boy's story was this: he could not be told he did not have the gift. If the others were lifting, he lifted. If they sang, he cried out in his voice-like-a-baby-bird-dying.

   He could not be stopped or coddled or discouraged. He lacked the gift but he persistently demanded the right to show just how much he lacked the gift.

   One day, in his late teen years, he told his mother, "I am going off now, Mother. All the others leave their home at this time. I am going to go off now, too."

   "No," she lied to him. "You cannot go. I need you too much around the house."

   She plead repeatedly but his mind, such little mind as he had in his great, homely head, was made up. He packed the few clothes he could find in the only bag he remembered and waved good-bye as he walked off over the hill.

   His first day did not go well. He got lost a couple of times and waved good-bye to his mother twice again as he circled his house. She was standing in the door where he left her the first time he went by the door and came to the door again when she heard his whistling the second time he left, which was really the third time, for the third time he left was actually the second time he found the house upon leaving and being lost.

   "Come in," she said. "I am making supper and cannot spend all my time running back and forth to the door to wave good-bye to you."

   By then, she was a bit put out with him.

   He decided to stay and eat with his parents and leave again the next day. After all, they still had his room, for he had not been gone long, just a few hours and had even gotten within sight of them more than once on his first day of leaving home.

   He ate well and slept soundly that night, undisturbed by fears of failing to leave the next day, for he had already forgotten about leaving at all.

   He was a singularly ungifted lad.

To be continued…

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