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The Scent of Innocence
by Michael Daniel

I could tell that something was troubling him. His countenance wasn’t the same and as he came nearer, it became more and more obvious that he was carrying a burden that no one of his tender years should have to bear.

“Hey Little Dude”, I greeted. “Whassup?” He sat down beside me at the table and with a heavy sigh the conversation began.

“Uncle Mike, can I talk to you?”

“Sure you can. You know you can talk to me about anything.”

“Well, I don’t get it.”

“What don’t you get Little Dude?”

“Uncle Mike, how come we’re having a war?”

Try answering that question to anyone, but a child that had just turned eight years old? It was as if someone had hit me in the teeth with a sixteen pound sledge hammer. I could barely breathe. The conversation continued.

“I can’t give you the exact reason we’re at war Little Dude, but I can tell you that there has never been a war fought for any other purpose than power and greed.”

“You mean like being selfish?”

“Yes. Like someone thinking they’re right and others are wrong. Someone wanting what someone else has.”

“But Uncle Mike, it don’t make no sense. Ain’t we supposed to be mostly Christian in America?”

“Yes Little Dude we’re supposed to be.”

“Then how come we’re having a war Uncle Mike?”

I don’t know whether this boy had heard his next statement from his parents or a pastor or had read it for himself. I think maybe he just had the “Knowing” straight from the Source within him.

“Uncle Mike, didn’t Jesus say to love your enemies?”

“Yes he most certainly did and he meant it. He still means it Little Dude. Jesus doesn’t change to fit people’s agendas no matter what they are or who they are.”

“Then it don’t make no sense and nobody will tell me. I don’t understand it Uncle Mike.”

I lifted his head and looked into his shining eyes and softly said, “I hope you never understand Little Dude. If it helps you any, I don’t understand either.”

His lower lip began to quiver. I opened my arms and he fell into them, wrapping his around my neck, burying his face into my chest. At once my nostrils were filled with the unmistakable scent of innocence. I was jealous and hungry for it. The very same pure and perfect smell of an infant only a few days new. It was as if nothing of the world had ever touched him. I felt the warmth of his tears. It was all I could do to hold back my own. I couldn’t speak. I just held him and waited. Then as he heaved a last sob, he pulled away.

Wiping tears from his eyes I could see the broken pieces of his fragile heart. I wanted to curse! I wanted to scream out to the whole miserable world! Lord God why do the children have to hurt and be hurt? Why can’t people just love each other? That was all that this unselfish, trusting child wanted to know and damn it all I couldn’t give him an answer.

Maybe the only thing that can break God’s heart is unbelief. Maybe Jesus wept because Mary and Martha and all the rest simply didn’t believe him. Maybe it is unbelief to this very day that still pierces his side. This perfect little one believed! He believed Jesus with all his heart and knew no hypocrisy. This adoring angel of God had not one speck of doubt in him. Jesus said, “Love your enemies.” Jesus said, “Love everybody!” That was all there was to it, no if’s, and’s or buts.

“Little Dude, do you want to hear a funny story? I think we need to laugh a little bit, don’t you?”

“Yeah Uncle Mike. Will you tell me the “Sneeze” story?”

“Little Dude, I’ll tell you the “Sneeze” story and any story you want, okay?”

“Okay Uncle Mike.”

So I did…and we laughed.