As this “program year” begins, with its enthusiastic barrage of things to do at St. Andrew’s, there is a part of me that remembers …
I remember being a child who loved to talk to God, yet who disdainfully considered Sunday school a holding room for kids, an activity invented by clueless adults. In worship, I remember shivering with excitement at the majestic roar of the organ but enduring the rest of the service for the little roll of Sweet Tarts that my mother kept in her purse. I remember being a teenager who would gladly read a theology book but who resisted the youth room as if it were a martyr’s den of lions.
I also remember my days as a single mom of three, determined to raise a pack of Jesus-loving little Episcopalians, come hell or high water. I remember cajoling them out of bed on Sunday mornings, screaming at them to get dressed, and bribing them with Toaster Strudel. I remember my brilliant but doubting son, head stubbornly bent over a thick book on computer programming during the Eucharistic prayer. I remember the psychosomatic cough that sent him out in the narthex each week as he literally “choked” on the words of faith that he heard but could not internalize. I remember trying to worship despite the full weight and heat of my young daughter’s body pressed against my arm and shoulder like a conjoined twin, as she reveled in an uninterrupted hour of physical touch from a much-too-busy mom. I remember the silent tears that ran down her cheeks as she pointed to the other families in the congregation, whispering that she was the only little girl in church who didn’t have a daddy’s lap to sit on. I remember praying that there would be just one Sunday when my youngest baby would stay in the nursery without crying so hard that they had to come and get me. I remember the loud echo that three pairs of hard-soled Sunday shoes made as they kicked at the pew in front of us during the sacred silences, and the unending chorus of “Mom, he’s touching me!” that made me want to give up and go home. At home, I remember our hurried family grace, and the silliness that ensued when I tried to get preteens to go around the table and say what they were thankful for.
Mostly, I remember always wanting more: More of the God who sent shivers down my young spine during the organ postlude, more of the mysterious God who reached out to me from those theology books. I wanted more of that God for myself and for my family. And just going to church, just participating in parish life, wasn’t giving me what I so deeply desired. I wanted more than just going through the motions, more than fighting with my children for outward compliance. I wanted my family’s faith to have real meaning. I wanted more for us than the rounds of school and sports, grocery shopping and Scout meetings that seemed to define our lives during the week. But I didn’t know how to ask for it. I didn’t know how to get it, even at church.
One of the first words that babies learn to speak or sign is “more.” I can still picture my bilingual baby Etienne, always hungry, a gleam in his eye and an impassioned wiggle in his entire body, as he pushed the empty food bowl on his high chair tray and repeated “more” in both French and English until I refilled it. What would it be like to hold up our empty lives to God with that kind of joy and expectation, trying to get God’s attention in every language that we know? It is my prayer that this monthly blog will be a place where we can let scripture stir up our hunger for God—that these reflections will offer you some new language for asking God to give you the “more” that you desire. Each month, I will write a brief meditation on an image from scripture that reflects a facet of the “more” that God longs to give us, and I will offer some suggestions for a way to share this exploration within your family, with simple ideas appropriate for children and youth. As we go along, I welcome your own reflections, responses, and suggestions in the “Comments” section, as we join together as a community seeking “more” from our faith.
Image from: http://babysignlanguagerocks.com/