Years ago two boys, ages 5 and 7, sat upon a rock ledge jutting out from the side of a gently sloping hill. The granite ledge was just high enough and wide enough to make a natural bench, providing an expansive view of the valley below. It was so many years ago that neither of the boys was old enough to know or understand the ‘facts of life’.
“We do too have a dad. Mom says all boys and girls have dads,” said Matthew, the younger of the two.
Tomas, two whole years older and thus oh so much more knowledgeable, replied, “Yeah, well mom also told us that Santa Claus was real. Remember that?”
“Other kids have them.”
“No, dummy, dads.”
“All of ’em? How do you know? What about Ron, huh? Where’s his dad? How come everybody *has* to have a dad? What if he doesn’t? Will he turn green? Ron isn’t green. Not even all kids have moms. Like Joey. Where’s his mom? And he’s doing OK isn’t he? Listen, when I grow up I want to be a scientist and scientists aren’t supposed to just believe things. They have to look at facts and use empire knowledge. That means they have to see things for real.”
“So if we don’t see everybody’s dad, then how do we know everybody has one?”
“Well mom says everybody has a dad and our’s is far away working so he can send us money so we can buy food.”
“Everybody? Ron? What about kids that are adopted? What about really old people? Besides Santa Claus was up in the North Pole working wasn’t he? Except he was a lie. So how do you know?”
“I just know that’s all. ‘Cause I believe what mom says.”
“Well that’s not good enough for a scientist. What if it’s all just another story, huh? Nope. If I can’t see him and talk to him, I can’t use empire knowledge. Show me.”
“Someday he’ll come home and then we’ll both see him.”
“Yeah, someday Santa Claus will come down the chimney too.”
“It’s different and you know it. So just be quiet, OK?”
They sat quietly for a bit, watching the sun as it fell behind the tree-lined ridge on the other side of the wide valley… listening… to the sound of insects buzzing around… the clear rocky stream bubbling along below them… leaves rustling in a gentle breeze…
Our father, who art in heaven…