Something bad happened, Mom. Trust me, you don’t want to know about it.
I do want to know, Gabe, I assured, kneeling on the kitchen floor beside him.
As my heart sank to my socks, he showed me two of the most vulgar gestures I’ve seen in my life. My heart sank. But ever a prisoner of hope, I was solaced: Maybe it’s only meaningless mouth motions to him. Like when-innocent-he’d use his third digit to point. Maybe it’s just a gesture.
Short-lived and vain was that hope. Alas.
This one means a boy is…And that other one is what a girl does…
Proof positive. No doubt about it- Gabe was infected. The vile disease has touched our vibrant seven-year old. The boy who watches G was exposed to X, or R at least. The little one who has to be so careful what he sees in the days because it might transform to nightmare.
The son with the sensitive eyes- the son who won’t watch Wallace and Gromit for “weirdness,” and who covers his ears to block the voice of a Talking White Rabbit-this son saw that. He heard that.
My heart fell fast and heavy. To stomach’s pit it sank. In the hush that alone could come through the lump, I asked,
Gabe, where did you learn that? Who showed you that?
Wide blue eyes to mine. Earnest, sober voice to me:
It was Evan, Mom, on the bus. I know I shouldn’t be his friend anymore. And a big boy-he showed Evan. He told me what it meant. But I don’t know his name. He doesn’t go to my school.
And so Gabe caught the infection. His tender mind was tainted. His innocence was lost.
Yes, yes, and yes.
But it didn’t happen at the perverse tongue and sick gesturing hands of a big boy on the bus. It actually happened way before that. Neither Gabe, nor any of us, has every truly been innocent. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, wrote Israel’s sweet, sin-stained, Psalmist.
Paul knew and we all know in our heart of hearts. We’re all infected with sin’s dread disease. And one day we’ll all die of it. Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned (Romans 5:12).
In Mere Christianity (Book IV, Chapter 4) C.S. Lewis wrote about infections. Not all infections, he asserts, are bad.
Good things as well as bad, you know, are caught by a kind of infection. If you want to get warm you must stand near the fire: if you want to be wet you must get into the water. If you want joy, power, peace, eternal life, you must get close to, or even into, the thing that has them… Once a man is united to God, how could he not live forever?
Now the whole offer which Christianity makes is this: that we can, if we let God have His way, come to share in the life of Christ…We shall love the Father as He does and the Holy Ghost will arise in us. He came to this world and became a man in order to spread to other men the kind of life He has-by what I call ‘good infection’. Every Christian in to become a little Christ. The whole purpose of becoming a Christian is simply nothing else.
Our prayers have changed since Gabe got infected.
We pray that, though Gabe was exposed and is a carrier, God will keep keep him symptom-free. We pray he won’t infect others with this brand of the sin disease, and that he’ll be able to stay sensitive to the Spirit. We pray that he’ll resolve more now than ever before, not to set before his eyes anything that is worthless; that he, with King David, will keep a perverse heart far from him and know nothing of evil (Psalm 101:3a-4). We pray that this disease won’t keep spreading, that it’ll stay in remission.
And we pray for Evan and the big boy on the bus who infected him. We pray they will know Jesus and become Christians. We want them to be healed.
We pray that those boys will catch the “good infection,” too.