Set me as a seal on your heart, as a seal on your arm; For stern as death is love, relentless as the nether world is devotion; its flames are a blazing fire. Deep waters cannot quench love, nor floods sweep it away. Were one to offer all he owns to purchase love, he would be roundly mocked.
— Song of Songs 8:6-7
I went to pick up my daughter from preschool yesterday.
When I arrived, I found the door to the classroom was locked and I could see that the children were sitting on the floor with the teacher who was putting the finishing touches on the second day of class.
I was early, so I waited with another parent or two in a small, adjoining space just outside the classroom. Various other parents showed up as the minutes ticked down. One of those who joined us was a mom with a little toddler in tow.
“ETHAN! ETHAN,” called the little boy. Apparently this little fella was there to help pick up his brother, Ethan, and he was very determined to be reunited.
This was followed by some polite giggling from the other parents as the mom gently took his hand and told him to be patient. “ETHAN!” He was having none of it. He wanted his brother Ethan without delay, and it seemed like nothing was going to stop him.
He quickly wiggled free of his mom and called out his brother’s name many, many times, even pressing his cherubic face on the glass so he could locate his brother and maybe make a little eye contact. The other parents continued to be amused by this, but it was clear that the mother was anxious about the situation.
“ETHAN!” The little guy barely came up to my knee, but that didn’t stop him from trying to punch in a code on the door’s security keypad so he could get to his brother.
An older, grandfatherly gentleman provided some reassuring words, “Your brother will be out in just a minute.” Maybe the little guy mistook that for, “You might as well bust that door down if you ever want to see your brother again,” because that’s exactly what the little guy attempted to do next.
It seemed that the small waiting room was getting even smaller by the minute. All the other parents started to fidget and the levity of the earlier giggling had now died down to the occasional nervous chuckle. The atmosphere had abruptly changed, so I suppose it was no longer entertaining. I noticed this only briefly because I had become keenly fascinated by this intense little fella and felt a great anticipation building for the two brothers to be reunited.
His red-faced mom quickly rifled through the bin of empty lunch coolers, plucked out one with ‘Ethan’ scrawled on it, and handed it to his little brother. Ah, a distraction.
He paced around for a moment, testing the heft of the lunchbox which was nearly as big as he was. The child made one short circuit around the tiny waiting room and stopped right in front of me, feet planted firmly, shoulders square, jutting chin, sparkling eyes… how could there possibly be so much intensity and purpose in such a tiny package?
“Heavy,” he simply said to me, as he struggled to hoist it up so I could see it more clearly. “Heavy, indeed,” I silently answered with a smile. And with that, he dropped it to the floor with a thud and darted back to his vigil at the classroom door.
A few more tense moments passed before the door to the classroom finally popped open and the little guy raced right for his brother.
I won’t soon forget the smile on both of their faces and the big hug between brothers at the reunion.
There you have it, I thought to myself. What a great example of how every little soul should behave when separated from their beloved.
That little guy pursued a reunion with a remarkable amount of perseverance and strength, in spite of the giggling, the ridicule, the distractions, the weight of the situation, and the various reactions of the ‘adults’ around him.
Ah, you are beautiful, my beloved, ah, you are beautiful! — Song of Songs, 4:1