Occasionally Spencer gets to spend a day with Andy at work. We are lucky that his job is flexible enough to be able to manage this ‘special day’ and also lucky that Spencer is usually extremely well behaved while in Andy’s work environment. I’ll easily admit that it’s also nice for me just to have Cassia at home and spend a whole day with just her (not many chances of that happening after baby #3 comes).
Recently Spencer was with Andy on a day in which he had an RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) meeting in the evening. I received this text from Andy after the meeting:
“Love you. Cleaning up. Spud wants to pray the rosary before we head out.”
While we have lightly talked about the rosary at home, we haven’t used it in practice much. Maybe a decade or so here and there. After inquiring a little further, Andy said he had some rosaries out with the intention of talking about it at RCIA, but that didn’t happen. So it was just in seeing the rosaries out that inspired this boy of ours to have a desire to pray it.
This past weekend was the first time that he attended children’s liturgy all by himself. We were fairly confident things would go well, but really didn’t know what to expect. He came back happy enough and got very little out of him about what it was about (which seems consistent with me prying about it on other Sundays). After Mass, the mom who led children’s liturgy (whom we interact with regularly after Mass usually, as she and her family sit close to us) said to me (along these lines), ‘I just wanted to share with you a little of Spencer’s reaction at children’s liturgy today. I was surprised at his compassion. We were reading this story [the picture on the page had two people in the forefront - one wiping a tear from the other person's eye and a group of kids huddled in the background looking ... cliquey] and I asked them what they thought was happening. And Spencer’s eyes welled up with tears. He said they were bugging her. Spencer was very compassionate.’ I was touched. I know that Spencer has a compassionate streak in him, but I was touched that he felt he could show that in front of others and be true to his feelings about the story, rather than hiding them. I’m proud of him for his ability to do that, and my heart melts upon hearing his compassion for the character in the story.
During Holy Week we heard many stories about Jesus. We tried to prep Spencer as much as we could on the stories, trying to help him to be prepared for what he would experience in the liturgies (which are long for a 4 year old). This led us to contemplating how to talk about Jesus’ experience of Gethsemane, his trial, and his death. Andy and I have been in complete agreement that we don’t want to lie or ‘make nice’ the story of Jesus’ life. We also didn’t want to go into details unless he asked specifically about certain aspects. The idea being that we didn’t want to put more of a load on his shoulders than he felt he wanted to explore. It’s a fine line, what to say. And he did ask questions. Many of them came about after watching Godspell on Good Friday (which is turning into a tradition, even though we aren’t terribly fond of the ending…it is unusually suitable for children). That was when he posed questions about Jesus dying. Did he die? Why did people want to hurt him? Andy told me later that he was troubled by the story, that he was affected by it. He didn’t like that Jesus had to die for us. We didn’t just leave him with the negative of the story, which would be unfair. We brought him through to the resurrection story and that it doesn’t take away the hurt that happens on Good Friday, but it helps us understand how much God loves us.
Later that night while at the Good Friday service, Andy was explaining to him that everyone was going to approach a big cross and give their respect to it as a sign of respect for Jesus dying for us. He explained the different types of things people do to show their respect: some people kneel before it, some people bow, some people put their hand on it, and other people kiss it. Spencer was adamant that he wanted to kiss the cross. I’m still touched at his expression of his faith.
I’m starting to firmly believe that this boy has a much more authentic and raw experience of faith and God than I do, and I am inspired by him. He emulates how I wish to be – to hear/see the Good News and to react. No debating. No politicising. Just react to God’s presence in our lives with authenticity. I’m humbled by this boy, and it gives me much more insight into Jesus’ teaching that unless we become like children, we will not enter the kingdom of God (Matthew 18:3).
It poses to me these questions: what do I do when faced with the greatest love one could ever experience? What is my reaction? Am I doing it?
Thank the Lord for our sacrament of reconciliation. Or I would be hooped. And thank the Lord that I have such a wonderful son who can inspire me in my faith journey. I have much to learn.