Saturday morning found me in the kitchen, preparing two dishes to take to a church potluck. I suppose people exist in the world who have never experienced the joy of a church potluck, but I am not one of them. I chopped and chopped vegetables for a salad and then created a lasagna-kind of crock-pot dish.
Then I left home. I headed for the church to decorate my Sunday School classroom. I’m teaching the preschoolers again this year, mainly because my daughter will not go to a Sunday School class unless I’m the teacher. For years and years, I’ve taught preschoolers about Adam and Eve and about Noah and his ark and about Zacchaeus, the wee little man who climbed a tree to see Jesus. I’ve introduced dozens of children to Bibles stories and this year will be no different.
I spent a few hours decorating (using left-over VBS materials, mostly) and finally, at 1:20 p.m., fled the church for the anonymity of Value Village. I’ve mentioned before how the meditation of sorting through other people’s cast-offs soothes my mind and yesterday was no different. (Alas, I didn’t find any Pampered Chef items this time.)
The potluck was well-attended. My daughter exclaimed with glee over going to church for dinner.
She asked, “Will we listen to the music?” and I said, “No, not tonight. We’ll just eat.” And she replied, “Good, because the music is boring!” (On Sunday mornings, we strive to stay in the service until the sermon starts. I tell her, “First, we’ll listen to the music.”)
That reminded of the time my 4-year old son explained to me why he didn’t like Sunday School: “Because all they talk about is Jesus and Jesus is no fun!”
When we left the potluck, my daughter asked, “Are we coming to church tomorrow?”
I said, “Yes.”
She said, “I don’t want to go to church!” (She normally loves going.)
I said, “Well, we’re going.”
Then she launched into a fit, the specialized variety of four year old girls. Tears ran down her cheeks and she wailed her displeasure.
We all buckled up and I drove the van home while she cried and cried. When we entered the house, she immediately began stripping, even though she still wept. “What are you doing?” I asked and she said, “I’m taking a bath!”
So, I ran the bathwater. She watched a show and soon, was in bed.
She woke three times in the night, once at midnight (my husband got up) and twice in the pre-dawn darkness. The last time, I didn’t even touch her, I just hissed, “Lay down and go to sleep!” and she mumbled something about a bad dream and I said (with no pity), “Just think happy thoughts and go to sleep!”
I returned to bed, grateful that my husband had suggested we stay home from church. (He said so after I described her dismay and tears–he wasn’t home during the fit.) The horrible night of interrupted sleep convinced me of the wisdom of staying home. Plus, this would be our last chance to play hooky before Sunday School starts next week.
And my daughter? I said, “Do you want to go to church?” and she said, “No!” followed by “Yes!”
We went to church and as usual, I was glad we went. The children are growing up with a sense that they belong to something bigger than just our family. They belong to the family of God, a place where adults know their names and don’t even blink when they take four pieces of dessert at a potluck. (Well, maybe they blink, but they find my children amusing, I like to think.)
Tomorrow, we’re going to the Western Washington Fair. I am eager to show the draft horses and the piglets and the bunnies to my daughter. My 8-year old will dream tonight of riding the fastest rides while my teenagers will try to decide which delectable fried food they should eat.
I will wish I had more time to study the quilts and 4-H displays and I’ll take as many pictures as I can while balancing my desire to photograph the moment with my longing to participate in it.
My husband will rush us along because that’s what he does, but we will slow him down. For one day, we will all slow down, even as we hurry to the roller coaster line.