Restoring Crystal

As a child (but old enough to know better) I was lying on my stomach on the floor of our living room idly swinging my feet from the knee joint when I idly kicked the curved glass front panel out of the china cupboard, one of the few nice pieces of furniture we owned. Glass shards rained down on the carpet. At the noise Mother came running, stopped at the doorway and stared at the destruction. I remember she was sad, but not mad. More resigned that she had chosen to have boys over fancy furniture. It was only a matter of time before one of them became the bull in the china closet.

“Can we fix it?” I hoped out loud.

“No. It’s curved glass you can’t replace it, she sighed.

We sadly moved our solitary show piece into the corner of another room. It was functional but no longer displayable.

She never punished me, but I punished myself. Then I forgot about it; at least I think I did. But it may have floated to the surface as I wrote this little bedtime story.

Picture yourself as a parent.  You have a beautiful home, well-furnished and pleasant to live in.  In fact it is just perfect.  You also have a child.  The child is not perfect.  But you love this child with the unfathomable love of a parent.  One day the child walks through the perfect living room.  The child decides to stop and touch a beautiful crystal vase on the table.  This is against your instructions, but children will be children.  The vase crashes to the floor.  You hear the crash, rush to the door and see your beloved child trying to put together the pieces of your precious vase.  It is a pathetic sight to see the little awkward hands trying to undo the damage and restore the shattered crystal.

As a parent you have a problem.  You could be merciful and ignore the event, sweep away the debris, sweep your child up in your arms and say, “It’s all right.”  This might relieve the child’s feelings.  But it would not be true.  It’s not all right.  The vase is shattered.  The room and the home are now less than perfect.  This is not the standard you have set for your home.

More important, the child might never learn that there are consequences to doing forbidden things.  So on the other hand you might exact justice.  Demand that the child either restore the vase to its original beauty or buy an exact replacement for it.  But this is not practical.  The vase is very expensive. The child has no money.  And to repair shattered fine crystal is impossible.

Perhaps a third alternative is to simply pretend the accident didn’t happen.  But as a parent you know that if the problem is not corrected it will happen again and probably get worse.  If your child doesn’t learn and practice correct rules of conduct he or she will probably fail in life and you will fail as a parent.  Your work which is to bring to pass the happiness of your children will never be accomplished.

Another person enters the room.  You smile when you see him come.  He is such a joy to you.  He is your oldest son.  Your son comes to the child, kneels down and takes the child’s tearful face in his hands.  The son asks, “Do you need help?”  The child can only nod.

“I can help you. Would you like me to?”

The child nods again.

This kindly brother with incredible dexterity picks the delicate shards of crystal from the floor.  The glass cuts his hands.  He bleeds, but he continues to work.  He replaces the crystal pieces in their exact previous arrangement.  The warm glow from his hands melds the broken fragments into perfect integrity again.  The beautiful vase is as it was.  No, there is a luster and glow about it that make it sparkle as it never did before.

The child finds a few words in its limited vocabulary and stammers out, “I can’t pay.”

The older brother says simply, “Come.  There is no charge.  Just follow me.  Do what I do and someday you too can work miracles.”

The older brother takes the child’s hand and they both come to you the parent.  You embrace them both.  All of you rejoice in one another’s presence and in being again in your perfect home.