Even in a good life, even in a life beautiful and full, a lot of things are hard. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that this life is indeed beautiful and full, because it doesn't always feel that way. We must keep our eyes on the author and wellspring of our peace. But here is something I am thankful for today.
Sitting in church, I try to do this delicate dance of keeping the children quiet while lifting my heart to god, being open to the words of the service while helping them to understand what they may of the songs and prayers, why we are there while keeping them from noisily kicking the pews or running around in too distracting a way. I do this mostly myself because Paul is up in the choir loft, doing his job and playing music, hopefully leading us all into heartfelt song. Sometimes Grandparents or Aunties are around to lend a hand but this morning, it was myself and Gibbie and Ezra.
To help me do all these things, I sometimes bring some special quiet toy or favorite object, certain colored pencils and snacks.
This morning, Ezra spent the first songs sitting next to our snacks, which I try to judiciously dispense so that they help carry us through the whole service. He sat next to the little bag, whispering, "me sit by apples and stuff."
He and Gibbie shared an apple, passing it back and forth taking bites during readings from the bible.
Later, during another quiet stretch, he sat again next to the snacks, with his hand on the wrapped chocolates. We got these chocolates, beautiful little chocolate bars wrapped with pictures of Australian animals, from some Australian evangelist friends of ours who visited a short while ago. Ezra just wanted to have his hand on the chocolates while he waited to get one. He said, "Hedgehog," and "Me love chocolate."
At the part of church where you can put an offering or prayer request in the plate I gave something to Gibbie to put in. I've talked to the boys about how all we have is from God, and about why we give to Him and the Church out of what He's given us, but I wasn't ready with it when the plate passed. He took our little offering and ran down the aisle to put it in the plate.
As he returned to our seat, Ezra stood up and before I could stop him, picked up the bag with our last two Australian chocolates in it, and, holding it in both hands, carefully walked all the way down the aisle to the back of the church. The people who pass the plate had passed it all through and were standing in the back with the plates, waiting for the end of a song. Ezra went up to one of them and stretched up to put his little bag on the plate. The usher smiled at him and Ezra came running back to me, beaming. "Me give to dat guy," he said, with a look of total happiness.
When the song was over, the ushers brought the plates to the front of the church, where an acolyte, or helper kid in a red robe, takes them and brings them to the priest, who says a quick prayer, offering them to God with thanks. Before he said, "All things come from you, O Lord," I saw him glance, surprised, at the colorful packages in the ziplock bag on the plate.
I was surprised that Gibbie wasn't upset that Ezra had given away our chocolates, and Ezra didn't seem to want them back.
For these children I am so thankful. May they always find the delight of giving their best treasures to our Best Friend.
All things come from you, O Lord. Of thine own have we given thee.
Pictures: none from this morning: the beautiful mushroom we found last fall at Glendalough State Park. two pictures of Ezra playing at a coffee shop; and the kids at home in our latest, but already defunct, homemade playhouse. Ezra called it his "Oma house," and it recently met its demise, being put to rest in the recycling bin this morning.