About ten years ago I was invited to dinner by a familyin Cincinnati (it's always nice to invite the pastor). This niceItalian family had three charming children. The youngestwas named Christopher; he had big brown eyes, and hehad just learned to run. After dinner he ran through theliving room and fell down the stairs. But we didn't heara sound or any crying, so we were very worried becausewe didn't know whether he had injured himself. So we ranto the stairway, and there Christopher lay at the foot ofthe stairs. And his big brown eyes looked up inquiringlyat his father, as if to say, “Did I hurt myself?' His fatherran down to him, took him in his arms, and the instant hisfather's arms enfolded him, the boy began to scream ,andcry. I wondered why this little boy needed seven secondsbefore he felt pain, but at the same moment the answeroccurred to me (and I knew at once that this would be aterrific example for a sermon): The little boy couldn't feeland admit the pain until he was sufficiently sure that lovewas there.
It seems to me that a Christian is a person who has thefreedom to feel the pain that's part of being human. Thismeans a person who has the freedom to enter into solidarity with the suffering of the world, precisely because thisperson is sure of the Father's love. Without that love we'redeaf and our feelings go numb. And we can't spend ourwhole lives desperately trying to experience this love again;we have to leave the first step behind and move ahead tofurther steps.