the littlest bundled on two pairs of pants and thick socks, two sweaters and a sleeping bag. out they went for an early morning romp. i compromised, "p.e. came early." that is my excuse for our late school starts. and in reality sitting down to the table at 9:45 isn't going to kill anyone, right?
i was about to launch into reading history when i closed the book and said, "boys, what is the most important thing we can do all day?" in unison they answered, "pray". and so we did. only this time i told them, "today we are going to do something a little bit different. let's spend 1 minute saying aloud adjectives that describe god." i went on, "there is no method to this. just say a word. we are not going in order. for 60 seconds let's just close our eyes and remind ourselves who god is by describing him aloud. i'll start. powerful." the 10 year old chimed in "merciful". silence. the 10 year, feeling his part as older brother offered his younger brother in a loud whisper, "strong". so the littlest added louder as if it was his idea, "strong." feeling the unspoken rhythm i said, "love". the ten year old said, "powerful". silence. clearly the 7 year old was now accustomed to his older brother helping so he must've been waiting for another prompt. "all knowing", helped the 10 year old through a loud whisper. "all knowing!" raised the 7 year old.
and for 60 seconds we went around the table, eyes shut-i think, i never opened mine, but could hear the swill of hot chocolate sips and slurps in between words. it was the sweetest, most sacred time of prayer i have ever had with these little boys. hearing the 10 year old. his words so telling of how he sees his creator. the 7 year old speechless, but willing to take a lead from his older brother. and follow.
it is rare, rare that my hurried personality senses an urgency to slow down, for stillness but i have sensed for going on a year now an urgency, neigh, necessity to slow down. it began before we moved back to tennessee when i was anticipating this school year with its many changes. i knew that i needed to keep life simple. and i willingly obeyed that prompting. not committing my boys to too much. recognizing that less is more in the way of curriculum. honing their strengths and working methodically and slowly on their weaknesses. deciding that art class was the way to draw out their inner scholar. finding time for running club, basketball and swimming were the way to inspire deeper understanding of mathematics and reading. deciding much to my discomfort that reading, spelling, history and math with a gentle nod to science and grammar were the full scope and sequence of our school year, leaving out latin, rote memorization, and my love, writing. i tabled those. for now.
everyday as i sit to teach i say something that i dare say no other school teacher has ever spoken to her students which is: i don't care if you don't learn a thing except to know that you are loved by an eternal, loving, true god. if you know this and if you love him, that is all that matters in this life. and you know what. that is my veritas. i don't care where they go to college. i care about where they spend eternity.
in the late afternoon amid the folded clothes on my bed, the 7 year old came to lie down beside me as i read the news. he chatted to me as i scanned the screen. i said what i say to him about a million times a day which is, "i really like you. and i love you. you are my best friend." and he said back, "i like you. and i love you. but my best friend is...you know." i began rattling off names of whom i thought it could be, his best friend. then he cut to the chase and said, "god". and my heart was glad. "i hope he always is."
so the next morning after the Mister left for work and in response to the frigid temperatures, i called the boys back to my bedroom, the warmest room in the house. "let's just read and pray back here since it's so cozy." the boys got situated under blankets and after what felt like an eternity of reminding them that nestling into bed isn't license to become rowdy, we read scripture. the familiar passage elicited a chorus of little voices who had somewhat memorized this particular set of scripture. when it came time to pray, i reminded them of what we did yesterday. "so today we are going to spend a minute calling out the many names of god." i went through the list many taught to me from amy grant and sandy patti songs. then we began, "savior". "lord". "mate". i thought about the boy who called "mate". and when i couldn't contain my emotion, i burst out laughing. yes, god is our mate, thinking he meant husband, but no. "he's my mate-like friend." ahhhhh. then we began back. "messiah". "judge". "life boat." clearly this boy sees god in a way that is pure and real, but when he called out, "brother from another mother" i chided, "okay, i think we're done here. our minute is up."
here's to finding an urgency to be still. had i not listened and obeyed, i would have missed these magnificent moments. how many of these have been squandered by the tyranny of the urgent. o, i am so ashamed. but there is hope to change. i will take it, the invitation to change. and find the blessing in what i've got left. may you find it and be delighted.