Photo: I was the official photographer for today’s family Good Friday service at church. Instead of poking and prodding my boys to participate, I gleefully moved in and out of the gathered families and documented the action. This cross, decorated with paper flowers made by the 20 or so children who came to the service, represents the coming resurrection that we’ll celebrate together on Sunday.
On Wednesday morning, the four of us hopped into The Blackmobile and bopped over to school to celebrate the end of the Fairy Tale unit at school with Major. Cordially invited with a hand-colored invitation, it was an affair that was put in the Google calendar and posted prominently on the refrigerator door. Daily, we were reminded that we were to come to the tea, that “little siblings were also invited” and that it was a big deal. The boys both got up without having to be asked more than once and they both requested to put on “church clothes” (Read: khakis and ties) to further elevate the occasion. All of this so that Major could debut his original fairy tale, complete with water color illustrations, to us.
Major’s story was simple and full of interesting details, with big black Xs over the places where he “made mistakes.” He mumbled through his reading, often answering our questions about the plot with “well, then the king did [action here] and blah blah blah.” We’d say, “we don’t understand ‘blah blah blah.’ Can you answer our question?” He’d simply laugh and change the subject. His seat was too closely situated to the donut holes and coffee cake, so we couldn’t keep his attention for terribly long. Besides, there was artwork to show off and friends to introduce us to. For all the energy that Major brought to the morning and for everything that it meant to him, all I could think about during the time that we were there is how much that little classroom means to me and how absolutely beautiful it is. I walked away feeling just as sure as ever that all of the sacrifices we made to get to this moment and to that classroom were absolutely worth it.
Major is just so happy.
Fast forward to today and my two boys too excited to get out of the car for church. They were greeted by peers and adults alike, and moved through the activities with joy and curiosity. What I love most about watching them at church is that, unlike me when I was that age, church isn’t just another adult space for them. They understand that it belongs to them, too. I watched them touch the alter and say the prayers, they sang the songs and giggled with friends. Minor interrupted the rector a couple times because, well… he’s five.
My Quiet Thoughts are about the lesson my boys have been trying to teach me this week. I have been feeling guilty about how I have spent these last six weeks. I get to the end of Lent every year and wonder if I did it “right.” Did I miss something in my readings? Is my heart any more open, my faith any further expanded? What was I supposed to find in my wanderings in the wilderness? I’m grateful to the boys because they brought me to the moments that I needed to come to: the confirmation that we’re making the right decisions and that our children are benefiting from the hard work we’ve done. That we’re finding belonging, that we’re setting down roots and yes, we even love where we live. We are where we are. We’ve come as we are. We have a lot to offer, and a lot to learn.
When I was a child, Easter was a fun time to play dress-up and go hang out with Grandy at church for our one time of the year. When I was a teen and young adult, it was a begrudging obligation I dare not miss for fear of the wrath of a God I feared, but didn’t love with my full heart. Only as an adult with the fullness of adult responsibilities have I come to sincerely believe with my whole heart. I come to the alter for the first time in my life hungry for communion and grateful for access to it. I’m grateful most of all for the understanding that I have always been welcome at the altar: at my most innocent, at my most defiant, and now at my most penitent. At all stages, I’ve been able to come as I am, where I am, and be welcome. Even served. Even blessed.
It is a chilly night in April: in the 40s, with clear skies. Ursa Minor turns five tomorrow at around 6:30am. I remember nursing him in a maternity room that overlooked the Charles. Birds were singing and tree flowers were just starting to bloom. The day of his birth was the First Good Day that year. He was born just in time for me to watch the Today Show and drink my morning coffee. I’ll never forget the feeling of ease after he was born (as compared with the terrifying newness of everything that came with Major) and the quiet of that room. New life inside, new life outside and all the world ahead of us both.
On this Friday, I wish you the simple joy of peace and quiet. Nothing so heavy as silence, but simply a time to sit and breathe, to listen to bird song and appreciate the warming world around you. I wish you the soft movement of a little life: your pet, a child, even an insect that climbs over your leg as you sit on a blanket in the park. Be reminded that you are part of the vast and infinite, and yet that vast and infinite are part of you as well. I wish you springtime delights that awake your senses and bring back good memories: an excellent crown roast or gorgeous leg of lamb. Potatoes au gratin. Mint jelly (that’s at thing, right?). Jelly beans or candied fruit slices. Enough chocolate to make you sick of it (is that even possible)? I wish you roaring laughter over a loved one’s story telling. A tender moment of a hand in your hand, an arm on your shoulder, a kiss on your cheek. A sunny card chosen just for you, signed by someone far away yet always with you. A time to visit a person long gone, yet ever present. Light a candle if you can this weekend, Dear Reader. Speak words of thanks, tell a story to a spirit. Embrace the living, too. Tell someone you love them this weekend, Dear Reader.
And if you remember, or care, please say a little prayer for me. Easter without Grandy is a hard thing deal with. I keep doing my best to distract myself, but the time is coming and it’s unavoidable. There will be tears instead of the phone call I miss so very much.
You are loved, Dear Reader. Near, far, in this life and in the one beyond. As you are, where you are, walk through the world with joy and confidence. Be the example of what true light can look like.
Until Monday, reach out, love deeply and take care.