“Why do you have so many different rules, anyway?”
The young girl looked up at the old man, frowning.
“I do?” he asked, smiling down on her.
“You sure do. Dozens, maybe hundreds of ‘em” she said.
“Well, actually, I really only have one rule. Some people have trouble with this one so they turned it into two rules, to make it easier to understand”.
“Two! What about all those rules about no fightin’ and no cussin’, no lyin’, no cheatin’and no stealin’? And that’s only a couple of ’em. No eatin’ too much, no dancin’, no watchin’ TV. No fun!” She folded her little arms across her chest and stamped her foot.
“Those aren’t my rules, dear. I didn’t make them. You did.”
“What? We did? What are you talkin’ about?” she cried. “ Those are you’re rules. It’s what we hafta do to make you happy”.
“No, my rule is only this; Love me with all your heart, mind and soul. It’s not too hard, really”
“Huh? What does that mean? I already love you a lot. Infinity! I can’t love you any more that that” she cried.
“Really? And what about that little girl that just moved into your part of the garden? The one with dark hair and pretty eyes? Do you love her?” he asked.
“Her?! You must be kidding. Didn’t you hear what she said to me? And her friends are mean, real mean. And they’ve been mean to my friends. If her friends hurt my friends then there is no way that I can be her friend. I hate her!” she said.
“Oh, I wish you wouldn’t feel that way. You see, I love her and her friends, as much as I love you and your friends. I think of all of you as my children.” With that he looked up from the little girl to watch the other children playing in the garden.
“But she isn’t nice! She doesn’t deserve my love. Or yours.” she insisted.
“Are you being nice by saying you hate her? Does this deserve my love? But I forgive you and love you just as much as ever. This is why some people find it easier if they turn my first and only rule into two parts. To love me you must also love all my other children as well. Even those you don’t like. Do you understand this?”
“I can’t do it. It’s too hard.” she said, looking down at her feet.
“But it’s what I want. If you love me then this is what you will do. Don’t you love me?” he asked.
“Yes of course I do.” She was quiet for a moment. Slowly her eyes opened wider. “I get it now! That’s what all those other rules are for. Us kids who can’t figure out how to love the losers have come up with a bunch of rules to keep us from bein’ mean to ‘em. “
“Well, that’s the idea” he sighed. “I wish you didn’t think you need these rules so much. I wish you could just try doing it my way. Just once. It gets much easier with practice. It’s a lot harder to keep track of 1000 or 100 or even 10 rules than it is to obey just one or two. So many of your rules are so foolish, so many people waste their time trying to please me by obeying them. They can’t really. All I want is for you to love me by loving each other. I know you can do it.”
“But how? I don’t even know what it looks like. No one is doing it” she said.
“Remember my son? The one who died to save your life? Just remember him and how he acted. Let him be your model.”
“Him? Oh no. He was your son, he was special. I can’t do that. I’m not your son!” she said.
“You could be” he said. “You could be.”