Saturday, August 15, 2009


They're brothers, ages 12, 9 and 5. The two younger ones share a bedroom, a love for soccer, and they all have a penchant for Nintendo Wii, and a tendency toward violence of the brotherly kind. They are mortal enemies and the best of friends, the pendulum often swinging from friend to enemy and back to friend again within 60 seconds.

They're all athletic dynamos. The middle of them is lean, small, and lightning-fast. The oldest is tall, thick, and strong as an ox, and the baby......well, he's just starting to come into his own.

Tonight, after an especially vigorous session of carpet wrestling, I heard them pause, breathless, to formulate impressive plans. They determined that they would take the professional soccer world by storm someday, three feisty brothers who would team up to strike fear in opponents. The oldest would be the speedy, agile Scorer Of Many Goals. The middle one would be the brick-wall goalie around whom no ball would fly. And the youngest would just be the bestest, bestest, player in the entire world.

Then they went back to the floor for more wrestling, until I went in to interrupt and tell them it was time to head to bed. We sat on the couch, mom in the middle, for bedtime prayers. Their sweaty, smelly heads leaned in on my shoulders. They were still out of breath. It was the first moment of quiet that room had seen in hours.

The oldest offered to say the prayer. After it was over, the youngest, in a voice thick with sincerity, said softly, "Heavenly Father, thank you that my brothers and I enjoy each other."

I caught my breath. Yes, thank you, I thought. Then--I couldn't help it--I peeked open my eyes at the boys, still sitting at my side. Something settled over them.

They were struck by the moment, too.

The oldest looked over at his little brothers, affection unmistakably written on his face. He gently, quietly nudged middle sone with his elbow. The youngest returned the glance, and the nudge to his youngest brother.

There was a perfect pause.

And then, at exactly the same moment, they erupted into grunts and laughter, diving for each other and heading straight for the carpet. I think the .7 miliseconds of tenderness was all they could bear.

I watched them, smiling, observing to myself that the moment had surely passed.

Or had it? I'm inclined to think--to hope--that a moment like that settles deeply in the hearts of three sweaty boys. It surely settles deeply in the heart of their mother.

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