I wasn’t looking forward to Spirit Play this week. I thought about what I might say. I thought about what I might not say. I fretted just a little. And then I took a deep breath…and the day began. The day began slowly with a spacious amount of time for everyone to wake up, eat and get ready. And then my son refused to go to church. And I happened to be the only parent in town on Sunday. So the negotiations started, and the tears, and the screaming, and the consequences. I managed to remain mostly cool calm and collected in the face of the very loud and tearful resistance. I got my children into chapel and headed down to our Spirit Play room. I greeted the other teacher and took some more deep breaths and went to sit on the rug. The morning was already harder than I thought it would be.
The lesson this week continued to revolve around all families matter. This lesson was on families who have experienced divorce. This is a hard subject to talk about with kids…both kids who have two homes those who live all together. I wondered if there would be any questions. Actually I wondered if I would be able to get through the lesson. Our family is currently in the middle of this very transition. It’s hard to talk about. I don’t really understand myself how we got to this place. I wondered if it would be hard to read about kids who sometimes are with one parent and sometimes with another. So, just in case I would cry during the books, I started by sharing a sorrow that my family is going through a divorce and that was what we were talking about that day. And I shared a joy. And usually the kids are very good about listening to each other, but suddenly everyone was sharing and wanted to talk about their joy that was like mine. It took a while to get things centered and calm and for us to take turns listening. That wasn’t what I expected to happen.
I didn’t cry while I read the books. I didn’t expect that either. And once the children were off and playing everything hummed along quite joyfully. I was really expecting this to be a hard class. Instead I got to hold a child who was sad to separate from his mother and he called me over later to look at his play-dough sculpture of an angry bird. Another child simply sat next to me as I read her a book and leaned in so that we were cuddling. Many of the kids engaged me in laughter as we pretended to fall asleep and wake up. I laughed. I was hugged. It was really nice. It wasn’t what I expected.
I am so grateful that our church is a place where we can talk about hard stuff, even with children, especially with children. I’m glad that our circles of community can engage in holding sorrows and laughter. I am glad to join your children in play and learning and wonder. I am glad that this is a place where I am loved no matter if I’m put together or if I’m going through a hard patch. I am grateful that I can be ok in myself and where I am in the midst of community. This week the children taught me not to anticipate my own grief, but to be actually where I am. Maybe it’s not so hard. Maybe it’s not what I expected. Maybe it’s better.