All winter Wilbur watched over Charlotte's egg sac as though he were guarding his own children. He had scooped out a special place in the manure for the sac, next to the board fence. On very cold nights he lay so that his breath would warm it. For Wilbur, nothing in life was so important as this small round object--nothing else mattered...
Wilbur appoints himself guardian of Charlotte's egg sac. It's his final gift to his friend. In some way, Wilbur becomes a surrogate father. Constantly worried. Overly protective. Thinking he knows what's best for their welfare.
This afternoon, I had a little father/daughter disagreement. Well, it really wasn't a disagreement. We were at church in the choir loft. My 14-year-old daughter was texting her older cousin, and she was complaining about having to go to church so much. Her cousin texted back, "That's a lot of religion. When you turn 18 you don't have to do anything they say." The conversation continued in this vein.
Now, I know what you're thinking--"Why were you reading her texts?" Well, she was using my sister's phone, and my sister showed them to me. Of course, I got quite angry, and I told my daughter that she needed to tell her cousin to keep her opinions about religion to herself. I told her that giving a couple hours a weekend to God wasn't a whole lot. "How much time do you spend at dance in a week?" I said. "And how much time do you spend gaming in a week?"
By the time church was over, my daughter was in tears. When we got to the car, she said, "I'm not going to stop going to church when I turn 18, Daddy."
I sat there for a second, thinking. She looked like her world was coming to an end, and I felt like a failure as a father. I sighed. "Sweety, I trust you. I know you know what's right and wrong. I want you to remember one thing: your mommy and I wouldn't still be married if it weren't for our faith and trust in God."
She nodded. "I know, Daddy," she said.
"Good," I said.
It wasn't one of my prouder parenting moments. I know that my daughter is testing the waters of adulthood. When I was her age, I remember skipping church some Sunday mornings and going to Burger King instead. It's part of being young and stupid and invincible. Like any father, I want to protect my daughter from making mistakes. Big mistakes.
I know I raised my daughter right. Gave her a strong moral and spiritual foundation. She's a good person. I hear that from teachers and friends and priests and pastors.
Saint Marty needs to have faith in his little girl.
Another Christmas poem for you--
Flight into Egypt
by: Joseph Brodsky, trans. by Seamus Heaney
In the cave—it sheltered them, at least,
safer than four square-set right angles—
in the cave the threesome felt secure
in the reek of straw and old clobber.
Straw for bedding. Outside the door,
blizzard, sandstorm, howling air,
Mule rubbed ox; they stirred and groaned
like sand and snowflake scourged in wind.
Mary prays; the fire soughs;
Joseph frowns into the blaze.
Too small to be fit to do a thing
but sleep, the infant is just sleeping.
Another day behind them now,
its worries past. And the “ho, ho, ho!”
of Herod who had sent the troops.
And the centuries a day closer too.
That night, as three, they were at peace.
Smoke like a retiring guest
slipped out the door. There was one far-off
heavy sigh from the mule. Or the ox.
The star looked in across the threshold.
The only one of them who could
know the meaning of that look
was the infant. But He did not speak.
Confessions of Saint Marty
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