We had many joys in our class on Sunday and only 3 sorrows. The scale was tipped and weighed down with joy stones, but two of the three sorrows were about death. One a fish, one Grey Papa.
This week in Spirit Play, we listened to the story of The Buddha and the Mustard Seed. In this story, a mother’s son dies and she appeals to the Buddha for help. He sends her house to house looking for a special ingredient to make a medicine; a mustard seed from a home where no one has known death, sadness or sorrow. Our storyteller went around the circle asking the children one by one if they had ever been sad. One child looked down and said, “Yeah, lots of times”. None of us had a seed that could help. The neighbors in the story didn’t have one either.
I was ready to have an interesting wondering conversation about what helps us when we face death, sadness or sorrow, but what emerged was Buddha. With giggles, one of the children whispered, “It’s funny. Buddha. It sounds like booty.” Hmmmm.
In our work time I found myself on the rug with a child who was stacking nesting blocks to make a tower. We have two sets and he was trying to stack them all together. This was difficult to do as boxes of the same size slipped off each other, larger boxes covered smaller boxes and the last ones were tippy and above his head. I smiled while I watched him stack and re-stack as blocks shifted and fell down. I reached in and placed a block on it’s side leaving the opening facing out. This changed the whole possibility of the the tower. Suddenly there were pockets to nest other blocks in. Suddenly things stabilized as the opening shifted.
Sometimes I feel this illustrates the story of my teaching (and my parenting). I want to stack the blocks a certain way. I want them to line up straight. I want to make them tall. I want to comfort those two children with big sorrows and instead, the blocks tumble down; instead there are giggles and silliness. The opening isn’t where I expected it to be. But in every moment there is the possibility of finding all we need. Maybe the simple act of hearing everyone in our classroom say that, yes, they too have felt sadness was a comfort to our children’s grief as it was for the grieving mother in our story. Maybe the laughter was it’s own healing medicine. Maybe playing with what is here creatively in the moment is enough to steady what is uncertain and open the possibility for a new thing.
In service on Sunday we celebrated our community by hearing the collage of voices that we have been creating for the past several weeks in worship. Hearing our many poignant and sometimes humorous voices say what we find here in our church felt like a pilgrimage similar to the grieving mother. As she wanders door to door looking for a house with no sorrow, she finds community and compassion. And as we come to Unity we find others here with broken hearts, with joyful songs, with tears and laughter. We find others who have a desire and willingness to make their own lives and our world more loving. We hope to be a place to find and keep our balance. And my guess is we also find here things that surprise us and challenge us and open us in ways that we didn’t expect.
So this week I am looking for where the opening really is, even if it doesn’t look like what I expect it to. This week I am trying to look beyond my ideas of what I think the right or wrong way is and to see how the blocks are really stacked. I want to look at them and wonder what might happen next? I want to hear our voices, the voices of our children and our adults and know that this is the community of my belonging. I am not alone. I need you. I need your laughter and your tears, your joys and your sorrows. Let’s hold them all together and see what new thing emerges.