My granddaughter, Landrye, came over to play a few minutes ago. She brought her new friends, Take Care Bear and Birthday Bear, with her. She had just met them at our local Wal-Mart.

Landrye was so pleased to have the company of this duet of Ursa Minors.

Apparently, though, she was not aware that these two fine bears were part of a collection known as "Cuddly Pairs." From their creation, they were destined to be in constant contact. Indeed, they were in actuality, conjoined fraternal twins. We used to call them "Siamese twins" — a term not heard much anymore.

Regardless, Landrye was a little upset that these two little fellows would actually be more like one little fellow with extra body parts. "I don't want them to hug all the time, Meemie," she explained.

And so it was that Nancy sat down with tiny scissors under bright lights to separate the two.

"Hope they don't share any vital organs," I offered from my spot in the recliner across the room.

In only a few moments, Take Care Bear and Birthday Bear were free. Only small pock marks recorded the fact that they had once been sewn together. Landrye voiced her delight. Nancy smiled warmly. I prepared a statement for the press detailing the procedure and the prognosis for the bears' recovery.

I'm always amazed at the willingness of grandmothers to undertake feats requiring more than minimal effort. I'm not sure, but I think I might have heard myself offer some wisdom during the conversation leading to the surgery. Something like, "Those bears were meant to be together and I don't think they'll ever come apart." Something silly like that.

Following the separation, Landrye held her two friends closely and ran to climb up in my lap.  She could've said something instructive to me like, "See, Grampa. I knew that Meemie could fix them." Or perhaps more pointedly, "See Grampa, you didn't know what you were talking about."

But she didn't. Instead, with the grace that originates only in heaven, she wrapped my arms around the three of them and we all hugged. Landrye had no desire to punish me for my lack of faith. Her only desire was for me to share in the celebration.

And I celebrated. 

If only we could hold fast to mercy.
The ability to include others in celebrations they don't deserve is the God-given gift of mercy.

I'm thankful that little saints like Landrye receive the gift of mercy long before they are tempted to open the package holding justice.

That more somber package somehow becomes a centerpiece for many of us as we grow older. We even convince ourselves that there is more joy in enforcing justice than in offering mercy.

If only we could hold fast to mercy — the ability to forgive and the energy to pursue reconciliation. Children can. At least until we teach them differently. 

When Jesus said that we all must become as little children to enter his kingdom, it wasn't about child-like size or beauty or intellectual function or innocence. It was about the capacity for love.

Perhaps I'm due a little delicate surgery to separate me from my hold on justice.