Sunday, May 3, 2009

blazing amazing grace

Yesterday, my 10-year old was angry at the people gathering for Portland's Cannabis Rally. From my grown-up superliberal perspective, it was an over-the-top, irrational reaction - Mason wanted to "punch all of them" or "flip everyone off" [wha??]; he hoped the SWAT team would come take them away, and he bitterly predicted they're all going to Hell [trust that it is not our family policy to surmise who is or is not going to Hell; I might have a chat with the Sunday School teacher next week]. All of this vehemence came between bites of pizza and my attempts to counter his disgust with calm tolerance for different beliefs & values. It was startling, exhausting, and depressing.

I know a significant portion of my son's personality has been overtaken by the surliness of imminent adolescence yet I cannot be still while he seethes over other people's behavior. I desperately want to help him understand it is okay to hold onto his opinion but wishing others ill will is not only mean-spirited, it serves no purpose - they are oblivious to his feelings [and probably care little] and he only keeps himself from delighting in sunny afternoons, pepperoni pizza & root beer, and Muppet-like dogs bounding around while he agitates about the fate of stoners.

During our half hour at the square, I was finally able to bring my boy off the ledge of condemnation by explaining what marijuana really is (apparently the school's "drug awareness" program lumps everything from pot to meth into one terrifying, irreversible death sentence) and assuring him that most people who smoke it are still reasonable & valuable, if occasionally spaced out, citizens; I finally instructed him to channel any remaining irritation into political action or prayer but no more ranting will be allowed.

Later, as we stood in the rain waiting for a streetcar, an unshaven & heavily backpacked young man made his way through the crowd asking for $8.34 for bus tickets home. I gave him the $4 in my coat pocket, which he graciously took before announcing excitedly to the crowd that he now only needed $4.34; no one moved. Mason turned to me and asked if I had any more money; I dug a five out of my wallet. When Mason delivered it, the young man shook his hand and said "God bless you, dude!" As he walked away, a young woman wearing a lei of fake pot leaves joined him; they both flashed peace signs at us and shouted thanks.

Mason beamed. He told me, "That felt really good to help them out." I gave him a sideways Mom-to-preteen-boy hug then gently squeezed his shoulder and asked if he realized the couple had been at the rally; a shadow crossed his face, fleetingly. After a moment he said, "That's okay. I'm still glad I helped them."

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith ~
and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God...
Ephesians 2: 8-9