I spent a misty Sunday evening in this beautiful place performing a simple wedding that, if life were as simple as I'd like for it to be, would have been performed by someone else. But this is the hand I've been dealt so I have tried to make the best of it. It's amazing that a place like this exists just 15 minutes from the plain confines of Waco.
But that's how life works. In the middle of the plainness (which has a glory all it's own,) we have moments of grace. These moments don't always involve children, but if a young'un is around, it multiplies the chances they may occur.
Yesterday at a belated birthday lunch for Amanda, Beth had Avery and was drawing things on the children's menu. Avery must have asked her to write her name on the paper and so she wrote "Elizabeth." Avery, noticing "Elizabeth" looked longer than "Beth" should probably look, began to read it...
"Elizabeth? That's your name?" she asked.
"Yes," Beth replied," "Eliza-beth."
Avery, looking at the sheet, "Elizabeth. E-lizabeth. E-Liz-a....BETH!"
Then, in a "Interesting, I just learned something new" voice Avery said every-so-nonchalantly,"Hmm."
To their right Jude discovered a voice he could speak in that would make people laugh, so he didn't let up. It was a cross between a demon-voice and that Donald Duck thing that everyone in the world can do but me. One person laughed, he noticed it, then looked to the next person to do the same.
To my right was Sutton who had conned four straws from the waitress and made the announcement that if three other people wanted, they could share in his lemonade.
A couple of people over was Hogan, who is laid back and was taking everything in, looking at the interactions going on between people and just raising one eyebrow, in a kind of detached observational quest.
Down on the other end of the table was baby Kylee (named after Kyle), sleeping the afternoon away.
And we were all in between.
I was quiet. My mind brought me back to Avery's baby dedication, which occurred just a few months after she (and in some respects, I) was born. He said that as community it wasn't just the parents responsible for raising children. The responsibility fell on everyone. It really does take a village.
But beyond the village, I hope your life has children in it. If it doesn't, find a life that does.
This summer, when we were preparing to reenter our building, I wrote this prayer of blessing for the Creative Liturgy Project...
Among all the things we say about this place, let one of them be that it is a place for children.
Let this be a place where our children dance with joy at the thought of returning to.
Let it be a place where they receive so much comfort and peace and love that they dance with joy at the thought of leaving and sharing comfort, peace, and love with a world that desperately needs it.
May this be a place where our children feel safe to laugh, cry, learn, doubt, play, and live the life you meant for them to live.
May all the facets of the radical message Jesus came to proclaim be written on the hearts of our children in this place.
As our children grow older, may they tell stories, sing songs, write books and live full, vibrant lives inspired by the way they experienced Jesus through the community of his followers who meet in this place.
We ask this in the name of Jesus, the one who called us all to come as children.