In the segment a woman is sitting on the ground prepared to pet a baby elephant who approaches her like a cat or dog might do – nudging his head into her chest as a show affection. It seems the strength of the elephant was too much for the woman as she is knocked over into the muddy ground. Where most would be afraid, Ms. Frenchick erupts into a fit of laughter. This seems to trigger more joy in the elephant who wants more hugs and cuddles.
When she begins to show her own affection towards the animal, the baby elephant seems to slip in the mud and falls on the woman’s lap. However, I like to think it was purposeful. Something one might see when a baby runs and jumps onto her parent’s lap. This of course causes more laughter, which triggers more joyous affection.
It also triggered something in all of us walking laboriously on our treadmills. Laughter and smiles – the universal symbols of human joy. As I looked down the line of people, all eyes were focused on this one television set. The man next to me laughed out loud.
Looking at the words on the close captioning it seems one of the newscasters reported, “Boy, does that look messy.” And it was.
Love is messy. God proves that to us in so many ways by coming to us and loving us in our messiness. And does so with great exuberance and joy. As I watched the segment I wasn’t sure which one, the elephant or the woman, would best represent God.
On one hand, God is the elephant whose love knocks us over and causes us to react with joyous laughter. On the other hand, God is the woman who welcomes the baby into her lap and embraces us with such surprising joy. Either way, love abounds in ways that seem counter to who we try to be as guarded or overly protective humans.
Perhaps you can take some time out of your day and think of a way that you can greet a person in your life with such welcoming love. And then show that love to that person. Drop your defense mechanisms and let down your guard to allow love in - mentally, physically or spiritually.
I believe that it’s in such actions that we are not only able to receive God’s love but to also give it. Who knows, you might surprise someone to react as we all did at the gym or the way God does when we come jumping into love. That is to say, with awe and joy.
Prayer: Dear God, thank you for loving us in all our messiness. Help me to offer that same love, with the same joy that you give to us. Amen.