Sploosh: Divine Love for a Rock
By: Lara Lee
John 4:7-8 (ESV) Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
Sploosh is a rock.
You see, I didn't understand divine love like my son had for Sploosh. Of course, Sploosh would never have had a personality or life beyond the shore if it wasn't for my son... the one with autism... the one who people assume can't love because the media has told them that people with autism don't know how to love. Don't believe anything you read.
Except for this article. Do believe this article.
Because of Sploosh.
Six years ago, when my son was three years old, my husband and son went to a church picnic in Aberdour, Scotland. I didn't go because I felt depressed and tired like many stay-at-home moms do, especially when you have no family or babysitters to give you a break. I spent the day in Edinburgh (where we lived at the time) writing in a journal about the meaning of life and drinking a glass of wine; a hobby carried over from my teenage days of taking life too seriously - the journaling part, not the drinking wine part.
When they returned, my son had found a small, smooth, black stone on the Scottish shore. The little rock fit neatly in his tiny hand but was unimpressive in every other way. With his very limited speech, my son had named the rock "Sploosh."
We all know that the act of naming shows a profound affection for any object. A man naming his golf club "Henry" shows that he has an unhealthy obsession with the game of golf. We instinctively know that golf clubs don't deserve names. My son's immediate display of affection for this rock was a foreshadow of things to come.
Over the next couple of years, my son was never without Sploosh, and we had to stay vigilant that it never got lost or left behind. No one could have watched over a stone, even the Hope diamond, more closely than my husband and I, lest the world ended in the fire and brimstone of my son's despair. He loved the stone with more love than most living things could claim to have received. He slept with it, ate with it, traveled with it, and was comforted by its presence. I had heard of pet rocks, but I am sure this kind of affection had never been bestowed on such a common featureless thing.
What did this rock do to deserve such love? How did it ever return this love back to to my son? It's a rock! You can't get more inanimate than that. Perhaps a favorite toy would be fun or a reminder of the giver. A pet, such as a dog, could play with you or show affection back. A favorite food could give pleasure and nourishment. Most objects of our affection have done something that made use feel good. This was just a rock like any other rock.
Such a small thing would often get misplaced, and its faithfulness was not guaranteed. I was certain it had developed sentience at some point just for the purpose of crawling away and hiding. When we tried to replace the rock with another, my son refused to transfer his affection. My son loved the rock just because he chose to, just like God chose to love us for no reason at all (Romans 3:23). Perhaps it was because of this choice to love for no reason that my son's love was so strong. It wasn't dependant on the one receiving the love but on the giver himself (1 John 4:19).
As my son grew older, he has randomly decided to love various other things for no particular reason. At the stables for his therapeutic horseback riding, there were nine horses who all had various distinct personalities. I was convinced a couple were part mule. My son decided that his favorite was Dakota. He didn't ride Dakota very much, though, because that horse had an ornery personality that made her periodically inappropriate for him. She would decide that she had enough kids bothering her and either refuse to move or buck. She was the only horse there that I ever saw the owner of the stable give a long lecture about appropriate manners. My husband and I could not figure out why our son liked Dakota so much. She wasn't particularly nice to look at since she was an old retired cutting horse who only cut hay or old carrots at her age. She wasn't the biggest or smallest. Her sassiness made her suitable for only the more experienced riders and handlers, especially on hot days. My son didn't see this or care about it. All horses became Dakota, and he even named his rocking horse Dakota. Where did such blind love come from?
The Bible doesn't say God is academic achievements or that God is athletic prowess or even that God is a social genius. The Bible says that God is love (1 John 4:8).
My son's simple choice to love is much like God's love (John 3:16). My spiritual cleverness did not earn me any more love from God than my son's simple faith. God chose to love us, not because of what we have done (Lamantations 3:22-23). He just plainly chose to love us (Psalm 86:5). He could not love us any more than he does already (1 Chron. 16:34). I can't earn it (Romans 5:8). Being "normal" or disabled doesn't change it (Psalm143:8). The abilities and gifts we have are not the foundation of God's approval of us (1 Cor 13:3).
The beautiful thing about not earning love is that you can't lose that love by what you do either (Romans 8:35). Just like my son wouldn't transfer his love because of the rock's tendency to get lost, God does not transfer his love because of our tendency to lose our way as well (Psalms 103:8). We didn't earn it so we can't un-earn it (Romans 8:38-39).
Sploosh now sits in a place of honor in my jewelry box with more value to me that any sparkling gem. Somewhere in one of our moves, the rock got placed there, and my son never asked for it back. We had kind of forgotten about it until I found it one day digging through my necklaces. I will always keep it. It reminds me of my son's God-given gift of divine love (Zeph. 3:17). Oh, if only I weren't so disabled to show such blind love to those around me who I had once passed by like the ordinary rocks (Eph. 5:2, 1 Cor. 13).