Friday, January 25, 2008

"But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart." Lk 2:19

As Thoreau would say, Gavin marches to the beat of his own drummer. He is at times a serious challenge to me and/or my husband, Dan. In particular, church on Sunday mornings can be an ordeal. Gavin won’t participate in music so he tends to spend the first half of the Sunday School hour wandering around the church and causing trouble. I teach Sunday School so Dan is left to run interference and, for whatever reason, the more Dan tries to restrict and control Gavin, the more crazy he becomes. Many a Sunday morning has been spent in the car, with Dan fuming and Gavin hell-bent on pushing buttons until he hits the one that will make Dan explode.

Gavin is overwhelmed by gatherings of many people in large rooms and he responds physically, by fidgeting, making paper airplanes, and generally trying to distract people from participating in worship. It can be maddening. More recently, we have had some success getting Gavin to at least participate in his classroom lesson and project, and I no longer approach worship with an “all-or-nothing” attitude. If he needs to leave after the children’s sermon, that’s okay so long as he doesn’t disrupt anyone in or outside of the sanctuary.

So that’s the background leading up to Sunday, January 13: The Baptism of our Lord. The congregation’s children were invited to bring their baptismal candles to worship for a ceremonial reaffirmation of their own baptism. After talking about this for three days, we still managed to leave the kids’ candles on the dining room table. Dan, already in a foul mood and dreading his Sunday morning Gavin ordeal, agreed to go back home and get them. I went to teach my class, reminding Gavin that if he wasn’t going to participate in music, he needed to go to his classroom and play or color while his teacher did prep. He agreed to this so off I went.

An hour later, I left my classroom and found Gavin standing at the water fountain with four glass coffee cups. Two were already full and he was positioning a third to catch the arc from the spout.

“What’cha doin’?” I asked casually.

“It’s for my game,” he announced. “The kids have to find the cups and then they can drink the water.”

Hmm, I thought. Sounds pretty ‘typical Gavin.’ But my Automated-Mom-Response-Box intoned, “Honey, I don’t know if that’s such a good idea.”

“It’s my game,” he insisted. “It’ll be great!”

I said nothing further and continued down the hall. As I rounded the corner, I met up with Dan.

“Hi,” I said cheerfully. “How was Adult Forum?”

He sighed. “Well, the 15 minutes I caught were good.”

“It took you that long to go back for the candles?” I asked, incredulous.

“No. I had Gavin issues.”

“Really? Did he disrupt the adult class again?”

“No,” Dan replied, growing irritated. “He was taking cups of water and hiding them behind doors. He said it was for a game. I could just see them getting knocked over, spilling water everywhere and someone tripping…”

Uh-oh, I thought. But I said, “Was he bothering anyone?”

Now Dan was getting ticked--especially when I wasn’t automatically on his side. “I couldn’t let him put glasses of water all over the church, Bek. I just can’t allow him to do that!”

“So you got them all back and he went to class?”

“Yeah,” he said, and then added, “I am so sick of this. If he’s not going to participate, I don’t think we should even bring him. I hate Sunday mornings with him. I might as well just keep him home.”

This made me mad. “No,” I snapped. “Gavin needs to be here. He may not behave the way we wish he would but this is God’s house. He is learning things, picking up what he hears. We can’t just cut him off. Just because you’re crabby doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be here!” (Meanwhile, I was feeling a little guilty knowing what was going on at the fountain around the corner and that it really didn’t bother me.)

Dan scowled but conceded that yes, Gavin should be at church. Just then, Gavin came around the corner and announced that all the cups were hidden and his class could find them now!

I saw Dan tense and put a hand on his arm. “It’s okay,” I said earnestly as Annie, Amy and Eiledon allowed themselves to be led to the various cups and then drank them down.

“I’m going in to church,” Dan muttered and stalked away.

I sent Eiledon in after him and helped Gavin put the four cups in the kitchen now that his game was over. “Are there any more cups out there?” I asked.

“Nope,” he reassured me. Hand-in-hand, we headed for the sanctuary.

As we crossed from the Sunday School wing into the narthex, a curious feeling descended upon me. It was a kind of peace, a breathless hush, through which a voice quietly said, “Gavin is going to be a pastor.”

Inwardly, I started at the notion, but then smiled at how absolutely right it felt.

True to his promise to stay in the sanctuary at least until the Baptismal ceremony, Gavin sat beside me in the pew, now fidgeting with his candle (until I took the brass holder away) now following along with the liturgy. When at last it was time for the children’s sermon, Eiledon and Gavin ran eagerly forward with their candles. I walked up just behind them because kids and fire aren’t always the best combination.

We stood in a group around the font while Pastor Rob and my mom read the service and prayers. (At one point, Gavin said, quite audibly, “Hey, when are we gonna light these things?”) At the appropriate time, Rob invited everyone to dip their fingers in the font and make the sign of the cross on their own forehead, which we all did. In Auto-Mom Mode, I wiped off Gavin’s forehead. He whipped around with a scowl.

“Why’d you do that?” he hissed.

“I didn’t want the water to get in your eyes,” I whispered back.

“Don’t do that again!” He stuck his finger back into the font and made another cross. “I want it to stay there!”

We lit our candles, held them up and sang the first verse of “This Little Light of Mine.”

The ceremony over, Gavin was free to leave the sanctuary and chose to do so. The rest of worship passed without incident and we headed for home. Dan was in slightly better spirits and after lunch, I helped him fold laundry before sneaking off for my afternoon snooze.

“Oh, by the way, I had the oddest experience at church—about Gavin.”

“Yeah?” Dan asked, without looking up.

“I got a pretty clear message that Gavin is going to be a pastor. Isn’t that wild?”

Dan stopped folding.

“When did you get that feeling?” he asked.

“On the way into church. Why?”

“Because I got a message, too.”

I goggled. “Really? When?”

“When the three of you were up front doing the Baptism thing. I got the distinct feeling that this was where Gavin needed to be and to get out of the way.”

The hair rose on my neck. “You’re kidding me.”

“I’m dead serious,” he replied.

We had to laugh about it. Gavin? A pastor? The kid who can’t even sit through a hymn without getting ants in the pants? Yet, I wonder...

Friday, January 4, 2008

Thought for the Day

This came to me in the shower this morning. Is it as profound as I think it is? Did someone already say it? Or is it straight from "the Man upstairs?"

Nothing is as simple as you wish it was. But nothing is really as complicated as you make it.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

What? No December Entry?

As time passes, I have come to accept, appreciate and even embrace the fact that I am a true introvert. I LOVE Advent and Christmas. I LOVE having the kids home from school. I LOVE spending time with my extended family. But two or three days ago I started to feel just a little nuts from the complete lack of alone time. I have been told that there is a well in my spirit and if I don't stop to take the time to fill it up with what I need, it goes dry and I have nothing to give anyone else. I'm certain this page will fill up with entries when I can spend a little time alone with God and my well starts to “runneth over.”