Sunday, March 07, 2010

I had a wee one spend the weekend with mea sweet six-year-old who is stinking smart.  She is also very stressed, oft fretting and crying over many worries.  I offered to take her for the weekend so that she could have some special one-on-one, some time to just relax and watch movies and play games and read books. 

My time with her was rather lovely, though she did ask if I was tired all the time or just this weekend.  I told her I have an illness in my brain that makes me tired.  She then said, "Oh, so it will be that way until you die?"  I replied that was the case.  She then asked just how old I was and became very silent when I responded nearing 43.  I am not sure if she thought I was old and didn't have much more time or that I have many more years of being exhausted.

Z has a servant's heart, offering to help me in any way she could.  It was, to be honest, a lot like having Bettina with me.  She got up and shut the back door each time Kashi came back inside, she fetched things from upstairs and the basement for me, and she helped me carry my shopping bags. 

Since her mother has never taken her to church, I asked for and received permission in advance to go with me.  So, off we went this morning.

Personally, I believe it was a miracle that I got both of us out the door, including ironing a dress that ultimately was not worn, and to church arriving only 2 minutes late.

I gave her the option of where to sit, and she initially chose the front.  Once there, however, she grabbed my hand and asked to remain in the back.  The consummate wallflower, I didn't mind and promptly settled us in a pew, taking out the books, crayons, paper, drink, and snack I had brought for her.  She started in on making a drawing for her mother, and I joined my voice in the Liturgy.  It was so nice to have someone to sit with, to not feel so alone in church.

At one point, Z knocked over her drink and she was very scared that I would be angry, but I hardly noticed.  You see, confessional Lutheran services are quite noisy at times because they hold a strong belief that children should learn about the Divine Service by being there with their parent(s).  Sippy cups, food, books, crayons, paper, toys...etc. are welcome as well, as a means of making small children comfortable so the entire family can worship together.  So, I didn't even blink at the sound...just eventually reached over and straightened the container, which Z then set back on the floor.

There I was, growing excited for we were nearing communion when I felt a strange sensation at the base of my spine.  With MS, there are many strange sensations, most of them painful, but not all.  At first I thought that was what was happening.  Then, with great alarm, I realized my bottom was growing wet!

I lept up and found a channel of water behind me, one that was no longer being soaked up by my pants and underclothing, so had continued its course down the pew toward the man next to me!  Fortunately, he was on the kneeler (I cannot kneel or stand for any amount of time, so I just sit in the pew).  I grabbed all my Kleenex and put it on the water, trying to stop the flow.  Give the impending flood (I swear the water was growing in volume as I gazed upon it), I struggled out of the pew and shuffled hastily to the bathroom to grab a stack of paper towels (Bettina later told me she would have had a cloth or two in her child-at-church bag).

To my surprise, when I returned, the entire length of the pew was empty save for Z.  I am supposing they left because of the closed communion, but I fear they departed because they cared not for my whispered explanations to Z about what was happening, her wiggling, and the ensuing flood.

Z surprised me at the alter, helping me up the steps and then remaining quite said still as she received a blessing.  After we got back to the pew, she pulled out the hymnal and leafed through it, searching for and finding the pages I was on, as well as reading through the Compline service. 

When her mother asked her what she thought of church, Z replied she liked it.  D then asked her what happened while she was there.  "Lots and lots of singing!"  When D asked her if she learned any of the words, Z rolled her eyes and said, "No way!"  Who can blame her...I'm still learning Liturgy after nine months!

She said would like to go back.

When we were walking into the church, Z grabbed my hand, stopped me, and asked why I went to church.  I told her that going was special to me because Church was where God comes to us.  She asked if she would see God.  I told her that while we could not see Him, He would be there working through the reading of the Bible, the Living Word of the Liturgy, and hymnody and through His body and blood in the Lord's Supper.  I knew she wouldn't understand, but I answered her question anyway.  She then asked if I would rather be sleeping since I am so tired.  I told her honestly that I wished I could sleep later on Sundays, rest more than I do, but that it was worth it to be strengthened by God's love while I was there.  When we were walking out, Z asked if God came to me.  After hearing my affirmative, she sat in silence until we got to McDonald's.

When we returned home, I told her that I would need to take a nap before I could drive her home.  She replied that was okay because then she could watch another princess movie (we got three in during her stay).  Sweet thing, she said not a word about my snoring but did mentioned she needed to turn the volume up while I was sleeping and hoped that was okay.

When we were climbing in the car to go home, Z announced she decided it would be better if her sister came with her next time so that I could sleep as much as I needed and not worry about having to entertain her.

I still needed to work on my boss' board report, but ended up sleeping for four hours when I got home.  I have been exhausted for days and days now, wishing for peaceful sleep and far, far less work on my plate.  When I was working on my report this evening, I kept thinking about what I found when I entered the kitchen this morning:  a sticky note from Zoe on the kitchen cabinet above the sink telling me that she loved me.

In that moment, I felt as if God had wrapped His arms around me.  Here I was supposed to be helping and encouraging her and Z spent our whole time together helping and encouraging me.  A six-year-old!

Even the darkness shall be light to Thee....

Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief!

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