How I have missed just sitting at my computer playing mindless games and writing on this blog. Well, sort of. It is something that I love and crave doing on a regular basis. However, with the sun out and spring in the air I have concentrated this week on one of my other passions in life – paying homage to the patron saint of gardening (if there is one, and if not than I believe there should be). My parents were extreme gardeners and from them I learned to love to till the soil and make gardens grow. I have thought of gardening to be one of the best ways I can pay tribute to God. And paying God his respect was something I did well this week. It felt amazing. I walk into my backyard or my front and see all my work feeling proud and knowing that I have given back to the planet, helped make God’s world a little brighter, gave a few birds a place to rest, eat, and play, all in giving my family a beautiful sight to behold when they are enjoying time outside. That is definitely well used time.
All the while I am outside working (if that is what I should call my pleasure activity) I think about life. It was there that I had my epiphany last year about the image of God, but I’ll save that for a later time. This year I was thinking about last Sunday’s services. Not so much about the sermon, it was one of the more forgettable one’s for me (sorry Pastor), but about my three year old son.
As typical Pastor Bill asked if the children would come to the front for their time together. Lately, Zach has become very comfortable with his place in the congregation and his relationship with Pastor Bill, to the point that on Sunday he was a bit disruptive. Thankfully his disruption was more on the comical side than the obnoxious, though it got to the bridge and was more than half way across before the children were released to the jungles of the Sunday School room. At one point, my darling child, stood up and looked at Pastor’s wife, Stella, and said, “She looks like a zebra!” I had already born witness to this statement earlier in the day, prior to services starting, but then to blurt it out, in front of the entire church interrupting Pastor’s talk, brought fits of laughter from everyone. Thankfully laughter and not a, “get your kid out of here,” response.
Zach, again being three, meant no harm. He was just speaking his mind. In a way showing how intelligent he really is by associating Stella’s black and white stripped blouse to what a zebra’s fur.
I’m going to hold that thought for a moment, just a moment, on pause. Don’t let the thought leave you because I’m building up to my message from last week that builds from the previous writing on friendships.
So, as I was playing in my garden, and thinking about life here in Illinois, how dysfunctional it has been for us, and all the reasons we should just cut our loses and get out of here. Talking to God and asking those myriad of “why” questions. A door opened for me. On Tuesday evening I had to take the three boys to Sam’s final band performance, first time without a stroller, and (as typical) solo. It was a wonderful event despite having to wrangle Zach out of the auditorium a few times. That was not my biggest challenge though. My biggest challenge is I ended up sitting right in front of a former close friend. And my heart was sad as well as a bit uncomfortable. I tried to make the best of the situation but it was not an easy task.
The next morning I informed Sam that he was just going to have to ride the school bus to and from school. Something he has not done for several weeks due to his falling out with a good friend as well as other matters that were getting out of control – teasing, bullying, etc. I explained to him that maybe today would be a good day to reach out to his former friend and try to leave the past in the past. He smiled broadly at me, “Mom, she came to me yesterday and said she missed me and wanted to be friends again.” I was elated! When I questioned why he didn’t tell me Sam responded, “I thought you might get upset. Anyway, she told me her Mom won’t let her be my friend again.” I knew I needed to step in and try to help matters.
We put on our shoes, me looking quite the mess with muddy pants and dirty shirt, to take the short walk across the street. I knocked on the door waiting to be confronted by my former friend but positive this was the right thing to do. A little prayer, a deep breath, and I spoke, “It seems that your daughter and my son are interested in renewing their friendship, leaving their mistakes in the past and moving forward. We are here to ask your blessing.” The Mom turned to her daughter and asked if this is what she wanted. I could tell by the expression on her face, her body language, that she was completely opposed to this idea as well as disbelieving her daughter would want anything at all to do with my son. Though we could not here the child’s response the body presence of the Mom changed dramatically as she turned with a bit of an upbeat tone, “Well, yes, this is what my daughter wants to so you have my blessing.”
I couldn’t resist the opportunity to smile and say, “I am thrilled for you both and again kids handling conflict the way I have seen so many times, just letting the little mistakes go,” to my son.
In all, kids are amazing teachers. They are the reminder to us adults that you can speak your mind, you can make a mistake, and you can get over. Filtering comes with maturity but sometimes maybe we shouldn’t filter so much. And when offense happens, which with kids does occur a lot more than we care to admit, they have this ability to say, “Hey, look, we are the same,” and they forgive, true definable forgive, each other to continue on their road together as though one action was no worse or no better than another’s. The age of innocence is what God would want from all of us – humility, honesty, integrity but most of all forgiveness.
Zach and Sam were the best teacher’s this past week about what God wants for us as people. Zach with his innocent announcement of something obvious and Sam with his friend in the ability to let mistakes happen, be upset, but then let it go taking nothing negative into the future with them as they walk through life together, friends. It is the pure innocence, the lacking of harboring ill will, that is something we tend to lose as adults. I can see God’s tears fall every time we hold back or take away from another relationship, another person, for spite or harboring blame for something that has gone wrong in a relationship. We lose so much innocence as we “grow up” because we cannot let go of the things that have hurt us. Instead we use that as our map to the next phase of our existence. What we really need to do is use these moments as moments of learning and growth not a way to live our lives. It is casting stones at each other, “If I hurt you first or more than you’ve hurt me than I win!” Really?! Is that what we want our world to be based upon? Is that the language of love, forgiveness, understanding? Is that God’s love talking? Is that what God wants to teach us? Anger, hatred? I think not. I know not.
I have had this lesson thrust in my face many times over, since becoming a Mom, and with each new lesson feel my heart grow ten sizes. I wish that the whole of adult society would take more lessons from our children, then maybe there would be less anger, less hurt, less suffering. I don’t know. I just think their message, their calling a zebra a zebra, their ability to say I’m sorry and let’s leave our mistakes in the past is so much the truest intentions of God’s words. And I am so incredibly thankful that I get to have these experiences times three.