"I built a habitat!": lessons in compassion from a 6-year-old

"Follow me!" His excitement was palpable as he ran up to me, urging me to go along with him. 


He pulled my hand as he led me to his creation: a full-fledged habitat for a ladybug he found. 

This particular ladybug had a dent on the right side of its shell and a wing that was no longer functional. When my oldest found the creature, he immediately decided to help. So, he found a frisbee, turned it upside down and lined the bottom with rocks, leaves, and tiny puddles of water, then he placed this injured ladybug inside. He even put a wire basket over the top to prevent any other animals from injuring the bug further.

We had a good talk after examining his new little friend. We discussed the fact that ladybugs don't live long and this one was probably not going to make it much longer due to the injury, so my boy decided he would care for the creature. He spent the next three days checking on it, carefully dribbling water into the habitat, picking fresh herbs and flowers and placing them inside incase the ladybug decided to eat, and never missing an opportunity to update me on the status of his insect friend. 

Then, on the fourth day, we woke up, checked on our ladybug and found her gently nestled under a rock. She had passed. My son was definitely upset, but prepared, and quickly insisted that we bury her. He took a rock, picked a spot in the yard, dug, then buried her and said a quiet prayer. We talked about how he gave this sweet little ladybug the best possible end, with all her needs met and a habitat that kept her safe. The compassion that is revealed in my son is one that I can only hope for, and a quality that is truly a Charism of the Holy Spirit.

In fact, the Catechism of the Catholic Church gives an even better definition of the quality I see in my son - and pray I can continue to foster: 

ONE WHO SHOWS MERCY (PERSON OF COMPASSION) – one who shows compassion, love and care to those in need; one who readily recognizes the pain people experience and reaches out to bring healing and love into action; as a person of faith, helping others to work together in love.

God is The Creator and desires for each of us to ultimately create as well. Through my son's creation, he revealed a quality of Christ as the source of mercy. This is the purpose of a charism - they reveal to others some reflection of God and lead others to him, simply by us doing what we are truly designed to do - in this case, showing compassion for a tiny creature. 

My baby was so proud of his creation. I'm so proud of him. 

Run to the Father. Show him your accomplishments; show him your failures. Guide him to those things in your life that are most important right in the moment, so that he can share in the joy and the pain, reassure you, and help you process whatever it is you are dealing with. He is greater than all of it, yes, but he wants to be an integral part of each moment of your lives - even when those moments seem small as a ladybug with an injured wing.