Puppy loveBy Simeon Dumdum Jr.
Cebu Daily News
Nothing happens during our afternoon routine–an hour of shooting the breeze with a cup of macchiato and then a short walk to a nearby church for the Holy Mass. At which time, in good weather, an itinerant family would be set up on the sidewalk. Nearby a small kettle on three stones banking up a profligate wood fire would announce that preparations for a modest evening meal are underway.
But one afternoon, her mother squatting three meters behind and watching both her and the kettle with what seemed like domestic contentment, a little girl stood in our way. With her right hand, she held a piece of candy to her mouth, the better to draw the sweetness out, and with her left she carried a puppy, slinging it on a forearm as one would a stuffed toy. Both the wife and I realized that we were confronted with what Cartier-Bresson called “the decisive moment,” and so I whipped out my camera phone and, after a quick sidelong glance at the mother, who responded with an approving smile, I took a shot of the little girl. For not running away and allowing me to take her picture, I gave the girl a bill of a modest denomination. The wife, no mean photographer, would have wanted to take the shot herself, but she yielded to me on the tacit agreement that the next opportunity would be hers. Later I posted the photograph on Facebook with the caption, “Puppy Love.”
What is it about children that makes our right hand–or left, as the case may be–grope for the camera phone? It is that they and such as the morning sunlight and the soft, gentle rain, and prayer have something in common–innocence, honesty, tenderness. Which I feel are qualities that should be found in a proper subject of photography and contemplation.
Not to mention that Jesus himself alluded to these and similar virtues–the children, in particular, in which they naturally subsist–as the door into his and his Father’s graces.
Mark tells us that, while they were on their way to Capernaum, Jesus noticed that the Twelve were arguing about something. Actually, they were discussing as to who was the greatest among them. But, perhaps out of embarrassment, they remained silent when Jesus asked them about it. And so, once they were inside a house, Jesus sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”
As object lesson, Jesus placed a child in their midst, and putting his arms around it, he said to them, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.”
I’m reminded of this scene whenever I see a child, the sight of which speaks of the need, if I am to gain importance in God’s eyes, to be trustful and shun public attention and live a life hidden with Christ in God. And yet, though nothing is more humble than it, a little child can have unusual power, which often is strong enough to repulse the might of man.
One morning, while we were traveling on a side street, where vehicular traffic was unusually heavy, a foot-pedaled tricycle tried to cut across our way. The driver, pleading for passage, held out a hand towards the vehicles that were bearing upon it, each intent on gaining whatever space advantage offered itself. But it was a no quarter asked, no quarter given situation, and to maneuver the tricycle at a tricky moment the driver had to put both hands on the handlebars. His lone passenger, a little girl, probably his daughter, who was at his back, came to his aid and raised her tiny hand towards the vehicles which were rushing forward and about to block their way. At the sight of the child’s open palm, all traffic stopped, allowing the tricycle to pass safely to the other side.
What did the drivers of the cars and trucks and taxicabs moving cheek by jowl see in the child that impelled them to yield the right of way to the tricycle? And what did they gain from it? God’s favor, I think, even if they did not think or were not aware of it. And God’s grace. The peace that comes with the sunlight, the small rain, the breeze. And God, who is in the breeze.
More from this Column:
- The persistence of memory
- Round as tomatoes
- The name of the rose
- The Third man
- How to live a long life
Tags: bible teachings