Selam has been sort of down on church lately. Summer was fine–she really likes one of the churches where I regularly supply–and she got into the groove of “my mommy’s the rober.” And I had hoped very much for a part-time church position for the school year, and we’d talked about it, and she was digging that idea, too. (But, alas, once again I was not picked.) I think she likes the attention she gets from being the PK, along with the sense of predictability. I always tell her everything that will happen in church ahead of time, and she likes that.
So, anyway, after all this summer and the hope of fall, she’s just not into church. She does. not. want. to. go. Last week, she had to miss because she had a fever, and she said that was the only good thing about having a fever. 😦
Today, she woke up and begged me not to go to church. I gave in. We spent the morning cozied up with books and movies. Then I gave her a bath and told her we were going to a different church. She was into that idea.
I bundled her up and we went to our local riff on the Common Cathedral, an outdoor worship service for the homeless and the homed alike. Though I’ve been to the mothership in Boston many times, I had not yet gone to the service in my local town. I knew it might be a tough sell. I didn’t think the homeless population would be an issue. Selam’s pretty comfortable with most people she meets. But I was worried about the worship service. This local group is Episcopal (and sometimes Lutheran, but never free church or Reformed), and I was worried she’d totally get lost in all the words. Luckily, when we arrived, she was warmly invited to join in the drumming group, and that held her attention. Towards the end, she was actually keeping the beat. Prior to that, it was, um, a little synchopated. She liked sitting up front with the other drummers (a teen or two and the rest adults), and took her job quite seriously.
Prior to the service, we’d had a moment. There had been three promises made that morning in exchange for being allowed to use paints. All three were broken, and I just discovered this minutes before we went out the door. We had had a discussion about not only the transgressions, but the more important thing of making a promise–3 in fact–and then not living up to it/them. There was some crying in the car on the way to church. There was a conversation about forgiveness, and also about making things right. We talked about examples of transgressions that can be made right, and transgressions that can’t be fixed. That even unfixable things can be forgiven, but that it’s always good to try to make amends. “So I will never, ever paint again,” she said. “No, that’s a punishment. I’m not asking you to punish yourself, and I’m not going to punish you. But let’s think together about how you can make this better.” She really had no answer for that. As we walked into the area where the service was to be, I reminded her that I wasn’t mad. I’d forgiven her. Maybe she could think during the service about a way to make things better.
During the service, I sat on the grass right next to the musicians. Selam sometimes sat next to me, and sometimes stood up opposite me. There were a lot of instruments there, and Selam liked to keep it fresh, which is a nice way of saying that Selam liked to smile and coax various instruments away from other people and into her hands.
During the wordy chunk, she came over onto my lap. She held my hand for a while and then leaned over and whispered in my ear,
“I figured out how to make it better…….
“I am going to play the drums.”
“I don’t understand how that makes things better.”
“Well, I’m making God happy and you like for God to be happy so it’s all better.”
“Oh, how are you making God happy?”
I admit it. I wanted her to say something about joyful noises, or about giving her best or something preachable or at least bloggable. Come on, pull out the drummer boy, for pete’s sake.
“I don’t think God likes these pigeons. So I’m making a lot of loud noises to scare them away. Then they won’t poop on God’s green grass. Isn’t that making things better, Mommy?”