Kate, my eldest daughter was three years old at the time (I have four children, all grown). One afternoon, we were playing together in the living room- she loved to be tossed in the air, and then I would catch her. After a bit she decided it would be more fun if she would jump into my arms after climbing up on the end table next to our davenport. I must admit, it was a lot of fun for me too- something about, “daddy, catch me!!” and the look in her eyes when she was airborne. She KNEW that I was there for her. Those were some of the golden moments of parenthood that somehow seem to transcend time and space: it WAS, but in some way still IS and always WILL BE. I cannot explain it, nor do I wish to attempt to, for my feeble words shall just cheapen how it still feels.
After some time of this Daddy always gets tired; but Katie of course does not. I get up and walk over to the table for my coffee, in the kitchen which was open to the living room. I next heard her shout, “Daddy, catch me!!”. She was on the end table all smiles, a moment away from launching herself into the air once again, with the certainty of total trust — even though I was fifteen feet away, I would most certainly be there to catch her just before she hit the ground.
Of course if you are a parent, you know what happened next. Through the air she went, crashing to the ground, with an expression of disbelief and betrayal upon her face. What shot through my mind were those same two emotions:
1. Disbelief-Not that I would not catch her, but that she actually thought I could.
2. Betrayal- Because that is what I had done- betrayed my little girl for the very first time, of many more to come.
Thirty years later this incident haunts me still. When you are a new father, you have the euphoric ephemeral sense of Deity in which you revel. It is not long however, before your wings get singed from flying too close to the flame and you fall like a meteor to earth—forever. Not a fallen Seraph, but a fallen man.
I started praying the Divine Mercy chaplet a few years back and lately began to contemplate what trust truly means in the term, “Jesus, I Trust in You”. Being a bit dense I wrestled with this for quite a while, and then Grace revealed to me this memory of my daughter in the living room so many years ago. She had it in me; perhaps we all did in someone, sometime, somewhere. With this trust placed in someone who is not Jesus, we were betrayed and decided to never trust again. With a conscious act of will I can resurrect this trust in Our Lord, but in times unaware it leaks out when I need it most.
Woe is me, and may I find that place in my heart for Jesus, that my daughter once had for me.