You are the boy of heart and soul. A child with such gusto and strength, it seems as if nothing is too much for you. You tackle it all head on with skill, determination, and zeal.
Even at your young age, you push when everyone else would give up. You’re independent and curious, determined and decisive. It doesn’t matter that you’re the youngest—you will attempt whatever your siblings are up to. As baby number four, you learned early on in life that if you want something, you better get after it right away, because by the time mom gets around to helping you out, you could have easily just done it yourself.
And despite your mere 3 years, the leader in you is already rising up, taking charge, and forging ahead. No matter that you’ll have to climb the pantry shelves to reach the chocolate bar hidden on top. You’ll happily risk losing fingers to a knife in order to cut up an apple on your own. Arching your back and stamping your foot, you’ll scream all the words you know to tell me where I stand in your world. You hold nothing back to get everything you want.
And so most days are exhausting with you, little bear. But not because you are always naughty or disobedient or misbehaving (although you have your moments, like any other child). At the end of each day, I’m worn out because of your capacity. You push yourself and everyone around you to go bigger, to do more, to be better. All day you test the limits and expend every drop of energy, leaving nothing on the table except the fried wits of your mother.
But just when I think all hope is lost and that I may not live to see you to the otherside of toddlerhood, every once in a while in a rare, quiet moment, I’ll hear you from the other room. There you are, playing with your trucks or your chain saw, singing the Shema.
“Shema Israel, Adonai Elohenui Adonai echad…”
Sometimes in Hebrew, sometimes in English. And it’s in those sweet moments that I don’t know why any of this surprises me. You’ve known these words from your birth, sung over you as a lullaby in the womb, resounding within you as if they are the anthem of your life.
“And you shall love the LORD your God with all of your heart, and all of your soul, and all of your strength.”
You’ve been the boy of heart and soul since the beginning. One day, you’ll be a man of heart and soul. And then the words of this ancient prayer will mean something to you. They will define your life, your every move, in ways you never thought. You’re too little to see it now, but as I watch you grow I somehow know these words will etch their way into your very core.
Because our God gave you this beautiful gift of stunning capacity for life. Which means He also gave you a stunning capacity for love.
And so my little bear, when you are all grown up, remember that on the day you arrived and we gave you the name “Huck,” we blessed you with a name you could grow into. A name that calls out the best in you: to be a man of heart and soul, a man who seeks the aim of these ancient poems you’ve grown up with. A man who finds rest for his soul in the very heart of Yahweh.
Right now, you’re a beast of a little boy, and I know one day you’ll be a man to contend with. Not because of your strength, or power, or mental aptitude, but because of the song in your little heart. Because of your name. Because you’ve known the Shema since you were two.
Huck, the one of great heart and soul.