the fox said, “For me you’re only a little boy just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you have no need of me, either. for you I’m only a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, we’ll need each other. You’ll be the only boy in the world for me. I’ll be the only fox in the world for you…My life is monotonous. I hunt chickens; people hunt me. All chickens are just alike, and all men are just alike. So I’m rather bored. But if you tame me, my life will be filled with sunshine. I’ll know the sound of footsteps that will be different from all the rest. Other footsteps send me back underground. Yours will call me out of my burrow like music. And then, look! You see the wheat fields over there? I don’t eat bread. For me wheat is of no use whatever. Wheat fields say nothing to me. Which is sad. But you have hair the color of gold. So it will be wonderful, once you’ve tamed me! The wheat, which is golden, will remind me of you. And I’ll love the sound of the wind in the wheat…”
“What do I have to do?” asked the little prince.
“You have to be very patient,” the fox answered. “First you’ll sit down a little ways away from me, over there, in the grass. I’ll watch you out of the corner of my eye, and you won’t say anything. Language is the source of misunderstandings. But day by day, you’ll be able to sit a little closer.”
THAT WAS HOW the little prince tamed the fox. And when the time to leave was near:
“ah!: the fox said. “I shall weep.”
“It’s your own fault,” the little prince said. “I never wanted to do you any harm, but you insisted that I tame you…”
“Yes, of course,” the fox said.”
“But you’re going to weep!” said the little prince.
“Yes, of course,” the fox said.
“Then you get nothing out of it?”
“I get something,” the fox said, “because of the color of the wheat.”
-The Little Prince, Antoine De Saint-Exupery
I was thirteen, slouching in my ninth grade English class seat when I first opened the unbent binding of a new copy of Exupery’s The Little Prince. I had only months before been sitting in a hospital waiting room, cold. Numb. Trying to comprehend the sovereignty of God’s will–trying to comprehend why some are allowed to live and others leave this life much earlier. The fluorescent lights made everything look yellow, blurred by tears and sleep deprivation. I had been trying to understand why we love at all if we are only to lose. Why God, who is loving and just would allow things to happen. Why any of us loved at all. It was the problem of pain. Goodbye will always come, though. It is a matter of whether or not you take the time to tame another person. Whether or not you can see the good in the hard, dark, nasty reality that often comes. Whether or not you can see the good in the problem of pain. And then, even in the dark, deep, and empty sky, you will not see darkness. You will see a star. And it will remind you of a laugh or smile or a sacred conversation no one knows about but you. It will remind you that you had tamed someone and that you too had been tamed. It will remind you that even when we question how God is good in [death] and [devastation] and in situations that seem [unjust]–that HE IS. He is good. He is near. He is loving.
“One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that you O God are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving.” (Psalm 62:11-12)
And that is all we can hold on to. Tonight, I hold my Bible tight against my chest, forcing air to reach my lungs. Praying for the hearts and the loss and the pain of someone I have tamed and who has tamed me. And that is all I know to do.