Written by: Mark Roberts
Article source: Supplied

Every now and then an artist creates and exhibits a piece of art that appears distinct, different and almost out of character from their general repertoire. Michelangelo sculpted a statue of Mary and the baby Jesus – called the Madonna of Bruges. He kept the sculpture in a church in Belgium from 1514. It stands behind bulletproof glass and you are not permitted within fifteen feet of the statue. It is very distinct from Michelangelo’s other works in that Mary is not looking at her baby but rather away from him distraughtly.  It is as if she is contemplating the fate that must befall her son and the distress of not being able to do anything to change it. An absolute Masterpiece. Twice in its history, this sculpture has been removed from the church, once by Napoleon and once by Hitler; both were captivated by its majestic beauty.

The sculpt captivates me as I am a dad and I love my children. Unlike Mary, I have no idea what their futures may bring. This, however, does not stop me from worrying and sometimes staring aimlessly out my window, considering their fates. Perhaps Mary and most parents have more in common than any of us would care to believe.  We love, we worry and we only want the best for them.

When Tammy, my daughter, called me the other night and exclaimed with great travail, “Oh Daddy…..I lost the baby”, my heart sank. For that brief moment, I was with Mary in that bulletproof glass, contemplating the terrible fate that had befallen my little girl. “Oh Daddy”, I have heard those words so many times during the course of my life, sometimes exclaimed in joy and glee and sometimes in distress and brokenness.

When Tammy called, I was overwhelmed by emotions and distant memories flooded my weary mind. I kissed that grazed knee when she fell at the beach, I cuddled and kissed her when she had her nightmares and I held her close when the fever had overtaken her. All those times, I had responded and my love had restored the norm and turned her sadness to joy. But how does a father comfort a child who has lost a child, how does a father turn a broken cry of “oh Daddy” to a smile and laughter? There comes a time when there are few and limited responses of comfort – like Mary – I feel helpless behind that glass, there is nothing that I can do to change the circumstances.

In this broken world, God saw His children and His very own heart was broken. He never came to this world to be viewed from a distance, never came to be retained behind bulletproof glass, unapproachable and inaccessible. He shed His robes of Glory because there is something inexplicable about those words, “Oh Daddy.” Deep from the dark of night, those words are carried from every corner of the globe to the throne of God. He made that choice to come before one child ever had the chance to breathe those words and he came to give everything that He had.

Today, I know the band-aid I put on Tammy’s knee and the kiss I lovingly placed on her forehead will not suffice. I know the statue behind the glass won’t bring solace, but I do know that the master of the Universe understands. As I hear the words “Oh Daddy,” I hear the cries of a baby in a manger and I realise that his cries are in unison with Tammy’s, the same pain, the same hurt, the difference: He had to pay a huge price to purchase the special band-aid to heal Tammy’s pain.


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