When Marvin was a young teenager (around the 1930s or early ‘40s, I imagine), he asked his father if he could go with the other kids to some entertainment event (he didn’t say what kind). His father said it wouldn’t be appropriate and told him no. Marvin said he was going anyway, and headed out.
“If you go out without my approval,” his father told him as he reached the door, “this house will be locked when you get home, and you’ll have to sleep somewhere else.”
Marvin refused to back down. He left. He enjoyed the event.
That, he said, was the short part of the night.
When he got home he found the house dark, the doors locked. Even that window in the basement that the kids could sometimes work loose was locked tight.
Marvin stood in the dark, thinking about his options. It wasn’t winter, but it was fall and the night was getting cold.
He remembered a sort of loft in the chicken coop which his brother and he had appropriated as a “secret place.” It had a sort of a mattress and a ratty quilt.
He went into the chicken coop and climbed up. The “mattress” was there, but the quilt was gone.
Lacking other options, he lay down on the mattress and curled up in a fetal position. The cold wind blew in through the cracks. The coop stank of chicken droppings. There was no way to sleep. He lay there in the darkness hugging himself, shivering. The hours passed slowly. He wondered if he could make it through the night.
Then, at last, he heard a door open. He heard a creaking sound as someone climbed the board ladder to the loft. Someone put a pillow under his head, lay down and held him close, and pulled a quilt over both of them.
In the darkness, he heard his father say, “Marvin, when I said that if you disobeyed me you’d have to find another place to sleep tonight, I didn’t say that I would sleep inside.”
And so that pastor taught his son the true meaning of the Incarnation.
Wish I’d had a dad like that.
Wait. I do.