I’d like you to meet two friends of mine. Their names are “Ish” and “Like.” Those are not their baptismal names. It’s the names they’ve carved out for themselves as their lives unfolded.
Perhaps you know them as a neighbor of yours. It could be the nickname you’ve given them but never said to them. Or, are they people in your home? Or, better still, are they you? Is your name “Ish” and/or “Like?”
I’ll save you time. It’s the last question that’s correct. You put the word “child” before each suffix and you get my simple Sunday sermon. Childish and Childlike.
Here’s one for you to guess. A parent sees the newborn for the first time. Which person is it? It’s both! The answer is “Childish,” when dad loudly proclaims, “Look what I’ve done!” (As though he did this all by himself.) At the same moment, “Childlike” looks heavenward and softly says, “Look what I’ve done.” “Ish” is all about me and “Like” is all about whatever is, all about, and around.
You get a raise but not as large as your co-worker. You’re angry name?
One of them is all about play and you never want to lose that. The play of laughing at yourself, the play that embodies all of life (I truly do not step on ants anymore), the play of the buoyancy between your sometimes right and your often more times wrong. “Ish” becomes rigid, unyielding, and inflexible because the price of self-disclosure and self-sacrifice is too high.
Which one am I? One author describes them as, “spoiled, self-centered, dingy and judgmental.” Which one am I this time?
My favorite comparison? It’s confession. Since very few participate in the sacrament, I’ll tell you. The “Like” within you finally admit all your “Ishe’s.” This is not done not only for Divine forgiveness but in order to accept that “Ish” will again “rear its ugly head” but you are now aware of it and can acknowledge its rearing. With God’s grace, “Like,” can now monitor and control your “Ishes.”
God’s creation is only the person called “Like.” Childlike in thought, word, and deed. In life’s wonder, amazement, even disappointments and, surprises; no matter your age.
I believe we already know about the “Ishes” that creep into our lives. So I conclude with the wonderful life’s list of “Likes.”
“Share Everything. Play Fair. Don’t hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don’t take things that aren’t yours. Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush. (I add for the men, “Put the seat down when you’re finished.) Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some. Take a nap every afternoon. When your out in the world, watch for traffic, hold hands, and stick together. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that. Goldfish, hamsters, and white mice, and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.”
And saving the best for last? “Remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – Look.”