Down Home: The sound of heaven in three little words

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As soon as my phone rang—even before I pulled it out of my pocket—I knew my older daughter, Lindsay, was calling.

Most of the time when my cellphone rings, it sounds like an old-timey telephone. I’m not sure what I was thinking when I chose that ringtone, except it’s nostalgic. At this stage of life, stuff that reminds me of childhood usually makes me happy.

But the phone rings uniquely when my three girls—Joanna, my wife; older daughter Lindsay; and younger daughter Molly—call me up.

Jo’s ringtone is custom-made, a clip from “Everything,” sung by Michael Bublé: “And in this crazy life, and through these crazy times / It’s you, it’s you, You make me sing. … / You’re every song, and I sing along. / ’Cause you’re my everything.” (Hey, I know that’s not great theology. But when you’re singing about the Love of Your Life, you don’t split theological hairs.)

Car horns and quacks

I thought about making custom ringtones for Lindsay and Molly until I spent a chunk of a Saturday afternoon creating Jo’s. Molly’s ringtone is an old car horn and Lindsay’s is ducks quacking. Don’t know why. I just like ’em.

So, when ducks started quacking in my pants pocket, I thought, “I wonder why Lindsay’s calling now.”

As soon as I said, “Hi, Baby,” I knew Lindsay had her speakerphone on. That tell-tale tinny sound and all the ambient noise you hear when someone’s talking on speakerphone gave her away.

“Hang on a sec,” Lindsay told me. Then I heard her say in a voice that indicated she had turned her head to the side: “It’s Marvo. What do you want to tell him?”

Next, I heard the most beautiful sound to touch my ears in ages—three little words in a child’s timid, tremulous voice: “I love you.”

I heard the most beautiful sound to touch my ears in ages—three little words in a child’s timid, tremulous voice: “I love you.”

Mark it down. When he was two years, five months and not quite three weeks old, my first grandchild, Ezra, first professed his love to me. I don’t think my feet touched the ground the rest of the day.

Lindsay chuckled when she got back on the phone. “Well, he said it louder when he practiced,” she reported. “He gets shy, especially when he talks on the phone.”

“Doesn’t matter,” I assured her. “He said it loudly enough. What a great kid!”

Of course, I already knew Ezra could say, “I love you” over the phone. A few days earlier, just after “Everything” started playing in my pocket, Jo told me Ezra called to tell her he loves her.

I was jealous

Now, I don’t mind admitting that made me a wee bit jealous. In fact, over the weekend, I randomly called Lindsay “just to chat.” Ha. I really wanted her to put Ezra on the phone. But a 2?-year-old has to be primed for such an occasion. So, my call came three or four days later.

Love is fascinating, isn’t it? When we love someone, we pour affection, endearment, tenderness and adoration all over the object of our love. When it’s a spouse, child, other family member or dear friend, we can give and give and give. But we also want to be loved in return.

When we give and receive love, we’re closest to the ideal for which God created us. Read the opening chapters of Genesis. God made us to receive and reciprocate divine love. We’re still made that way—to love and be loved by God. But when we reciprocate the love of others, the divine image inside us pulsates.

When Ezra’s little voice said, “I love you,” it sounded like heaven.

No wonder.

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