Thea, I tread the untrodden path and wonder with worry where I'm headed. Then I remember that you are with me and I trust the journey, step by step by step. Teach me to be mindful in the present moment and to shed the bulk of future concerns. Amen.
A friend of mine recently sent my children a collection of puppets and a doll. The doll is Snow White, and her skirt can be flipped up to reveal an upside-down Queen, poison apple in hand.
It didn't take long for my older daughter to become enamored with the Snow White/Queen doll. Soon she was weaving a play involving the Queen and me--I was to play Jesus.
QUEEN: Jesus, eat this apple! JESUS: (Leaning head forward, moving jaw up and down.) Om nom nom! (Jesus' eyes roll back and he dies in his chair.) QUEEN: Okay, eat this apple again so you're not dead. JESUS: (Eats apple again and smiles.) All better. QUEEN: Now come on, we're going for a walk. Pick up your cross. (Queen and Jesus walk across the room. Jesus buckles under the weight of the invisible cross.) Now put your cross down. (Jesus lays his cross down with a loud grunt.) Lay down. (Jesus scoots the Lincoln Logs out of the way with his foot and lays down.) No, put your arms out like this. (Queen positions Jesus' arms so they're stretched outward.) Now eat the apple so you die on the cross. (Jesus eats the apple and dies.) Wake up! Get up, boy! (Jesus rises.)
So what if the Queen were God? What if she were Jesus' parent, and she intended for him to die, and he obeyed her? Is that the kind of God Christians believe in (setting aside God's assigned gender for a moment)? Is it possible to imagine this Queen as benevolent? Is it possible to imagine God as evil?
What this play suggests to me that perhaps no one is all good or bad--not even God.
Thea, a baby in the womb is the song of its parents, a composition revealed movement by movement by you, o Holy Muse. Inspire expecting parents to look beyond mere expectations toward your untapped vision of what might be. Amen.
Sunday is the day of the week when my daughters and I celebrate Eucharist together. We've been doing our own house-church liturgy for about two months now, and each week I tweak the ordo, trying to get it just right for us. Somehow, in all these weeks, I've forgotten to include intercessory prayers between the homily and the Eucharistic prayer, so I added a place for them today. I didn't write them out ahead of time; I wanted to see who my older daughter would want to pray for. I let her take the lead during liturgy.
"Miriam," she said first. I asked her who else.
"Daddy and Mommy," she said next. I added Anastasia's name to the mix, and a few more names came up.
Then she said, "I want to pray for everybody--for all the people."
I nodded and grinned a wide grin. If I ever want proof that I'm doing this mommy gig right, all I need is a dose of Anastasia's thealogical insight. Every single Sunday, when we gather for liturgy, she'll say something that makes me think to myself, "If only adults got religion like you did!"
Her intuitions about God and the way we relate to God are right on the mark. During our shared homily today, she talked about Thea as the mother hen, and she said that Thea loves all her little chicks, and she said she and Miriam were Thea's little chicks. "Yes, you are," I said, "and she's very proud of you, just like I am." It was Anastasia's turn to grin then, and I gave her a big hug before continuing on.
This past Sunday was the fourth Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday--the day when Lent takes a turn toward joyous hope. The liturgical color is rose, just as it is on Gaudete Sunday (the third Sunday of Advent). "Laetare" is a Latin command to rejoice, and in this Laetare week, I am gathering up my joys:
~spending time with my husband ~teaching and playing with and reading to my daughters ~writing (prayers, stories, poems, blog posts, letters) ~playing softball (both at practice and on game nights) ~singing with my daughters ~celebrating Eucharist each Sunday at home ~gardening ~walking ~dancing with my daughters ~playing the keyboard ~painting ~praying ~talking with people I love
My life spills over with joy this Lent. Am I doing Lent wrong? Probably, according to someone's definition. But not according to mine. This Lent I am aware of the brevity of life and the utter preciousness of each moment. I'm learning to let go of all that does not give life and to embrace all that does.