Our First Day of School This Year at Sea World
He's the family clown. The joy-bringer. The one who makes us crack up at the dinner table, food nearly falling from our mouths as we laugh. His face is so expressive, so flexible, so changeable, as he pulls it into one expression after another...sad, joyful, angry, excited, silly. Always silly. We laugh some more.
Tonight he crawls into my lap, this our youngest, almost eleven. Curling into a ball, he settles into me, asking me to pray for him. I pull him more firmly into my side, my free hand upon his soft red hair. He lowers bright blue eyes, ready for our bedtime prayers and my blessing.
This boy brimming with joy, the one who invokes laughter, is studious. He works hard, methodically checking his way through his assigned work each day of our home school. He's driven...much more so than his elder brothers. His focus is incredible. He impresses me. He is a late reader, but was an early writer, printing his entire eight-letter name by age three, writing it in perfect slanting cursive while still in first grade. He is justifiably proud of his penmanship.
Two weeks ago in our Morning Prayer time, we read Jesus' parable about the mustard seed in the Gospel of Saint Luke, about how it grows into the largest plant in the garden despite its being the smallest seed...practically microscopic. After we finished discussing the passage and praying, he came to me in tears.
He was afraid that he doesn't love God enough.
His face suffuses red, embarrassed but confiding. I bring him to the stairs leading to our second-floor bedroom where I settle him in my lap as I sit on the steps. He cuddles into me, seeking reassurance. His blue eyes swim with sadness and fear. We talk in quiet voices. I share with him; he listens, eagerly taking in the Truth that we sometimes cannot wrap our minds around.
How can Jesus love us so much? And how can we believe it?
I ask him if he wants me to pray for him; he nods his yes.
He trusts me to tell him Truth.
I hold him close, drinking in his sweet still-little-boy smell, praying for him.
And tell him Truth.
I see Christ in the blue eyes swimming in tears. I see Christ in his joy, in his diligence, in his love, in his trust.
I see Christ in my youngest child...and in all four of our children.
I pray they see Christ in me.
I remember Saint Patrick's "Breastplate Prayer"...and I pray part of it:
Christ be with me, Christ within me,I pray for Christ to shine through me as He shines through our youngest, our joy-bringer.
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
Praying for our children, this night and always,