My mom died a few years ago and I miss her so much. I wish she could see my two grandsons and experience the joy we have in them. At a recent church dinner we somehow started talking about Mom and four-year-old Trey asked where she was. I told him that she had died and was in heaven with Jesus. He asked what her name was and what my father’s name was too. Then he seemed to get interested in something else and I thought that was the end of it until my daughter reported this conversation which occurred on the way home that night.
Trey: Mama, I’m sad about Nana’s mommy and daddy.
Beth: Why buddy?
Trey: Cause I want to meet them!
Beth: They would have loved you Trey, and your brother!
Trey: Yea, I would have loved my great grandma and great grandpa!
What a tender heart of a little boy who can love, even people he has never met. I have a feeling that he can even feel the love that is passed down from my parents in very real ways. They are always with us.
I was sitting at my desk in my office, trying to decide which pile of work to dig into first, when I heard the sound of preschoolers outside my window. I looked up and saw them pointing at leaves and picking them up. Each child had a bag in which they put their leaves. I’m guessing there will be a project with wax paper involved. They were excited and chatty as their voices raised, “I found one!”
We are blessed to have two schools at the United Methodist Church in Stow. The voices of children often remind us as we are busy with the busyness of adults to stop every once in a while and enjoy a good time in God’s beautiful creation.
The rain was pouring down and the steam was rising from the parking lot as I sat in my car waiting for the seven o’clock hour. Some members of the congregation had shared the idea of this gathering with me about six months before. “What if we gathered at each of the school parking lots in the Stow- Monroe Falls School District the evening before school started and prayed?” I thought it was a wonderful idea.
We began organizing ourselves and individuals volunteered to be at each of the parking lots of our nine schools. We invited others to join us for a prayer at 7pm to lift up our students, teachers, support staff, administration, families, and community. We prayed that we had an engaging and safe school year. We wanted to be deliberate and focused.
Of course I had no idea how the Parking Lot Prayer would go but everyone involved shared that it was a wonderful experience and that knowing we were all praying together was very moving. The last sentences of our shared prayer were these:
Protective God, we pray for the safety of all who work and learn here. Bless their coming in and their going out. Bless their efforts. Bless their toil and play. Help all of us make the most of the year ahead.
All this we pray with hope and courage.
Rain wasn’t the only thing that was being poured over our schools that evening!
A couple weeks ago our congregation gathered for a Sunday evening of games, fellowship, and s’mores at our outdoor shelter behind the church. While a couple people got the fire going others enjoyed a group game. There were snacks and the promise of gooey treats. There were children, youth, and and adults of all ages. While one game was finishing up I ran over to the parsonage on the other side of our wooded area to get some roasting forks. As I walked back I stopped and closed my eyes to listen to a most wonderful sound. It was the sound of talking and laughter. It echoed through the trees and it was such a blessing. Listening to the children of God being together, enjoying the moment, joking with one another, and shouting words of encouragement is even better than hearing angels sing!
(Originally published August 5, 2016)