Oh, did I say "worship?" Yes, yes, I did. Worship. Religion. Spirituality. Prayer. God. Jesus. Light. Salvation. I'm well aware that those are four letter words to many folks.
If I mention my choir or ministry work, I find that the reaction of the person on the other side of the conversation often lapses into a sullen, sad and remorseful state. Then I usually chime in with, "well, don't worry, I'm not a goody two-shoes. I drink scotch, I cuss, and I know I'm not perfect...but I do enjoy my choir, and I do love my church. We think everyone is right!" Occasionally, that works, and the acquaintance I've met will ease up a bit, sit more upright and smile. Other times, my companion might laugh and say, "I haven't been to church for so long, the walls will fall in if I ever go." I try to tell them that we are all redeemed and forgiven children of God. I try to remind them that God knows what it's like to be disdained or turned away or excluded.
Mostly, though, I try to reassure them that it's okay if they don't go to church, that I believe we are judged by what we do when others aren't looking...not necessarily what we do when before a congregation of worshipers.
I don't want to be remembered as someone who judged others, but I do want to remember others. I do want to remember the inspirational moments in my life, whether they came from joyful circumstances or those derived from when I was bowed in failure. My most cherished and embraced memories are those of my son, when he used to stand in the car seat next to me with his little hand around my neck and sing Take It To the Limit with me as I drove to work (no seat belts or seatbelt laws then). He would recant entire movies to me, verbatim, after he'd seen them when was visiting his daddy in Northern Kentucky, his daddy who had every other weekend with him and then entire summers, and who took him to Disneyworld, Kings Island, vacations, the beach, baseball practice and all sorts of cool activities. I was the mommy who woke him up and got him ready for school, who fed him, and made him do his homework. I was the parent who had to show him responsibility to get an education so he wouldn't have to work like I did to make ends meet. However, his father played an equally important role. He was the parent who showed him he had the responsibility to enjoy life, to participate in sports, to read Sports Illustrated cover-to-cover, to honor his family by bonding closely with his aunts and uncles and cousins. My son's father also handed the capacity to Travis to ask, "Why not?" instead of simply thinking of all the reasons to say "No." Equally important roles we played, my son's father and I, but it has taken me a while to settle into the backseat and be more the observer than the participant. I'm getting better at it, I'm trying to realize he's a grown man now and doesn't really have the impetus to bond with me anymore, that I live too far away and I am of a different ilk than he and his father's family ... but I still long for the day when my kid would come home from school and then tell me he had a tremendous project due the next day, or immediately, and he would need his mother, -- i.e., "Mommy! Guess what? I am going to be a lion in tonight's Christmas play at school! ... And you need to make the costume. ... and I have to be there in 15 minutes!" Hah! Those were the days... and yeah, I long for those days, but I know he's a good parent himself and he's busy. I'm also mindful that he, too, someday will know how it feels to have a child not need you anymore. It's a tough row to hoe, but it is doable...and it's probably what is natural.
Sooo, back to the Sunday Smile. Why am I smiling? I'm happy today because I know I was a good Mother. I am happy today because my day is filled with song. I am happy today because I have great plans for the future and am devoting myself to seeing as many concerts, musicals, plays, poetry readings, art exhibits and museums as I possibly can. I am happy today because I chose to surround myself with those who love me and I chose to love those who surround me. I'm happy because, dog-gone-it, I did raise a good child who has grown to be one of the best parents I've ever known. He told me recently that the most important thing he could do was equip his children with the tools to become good adults. I was quite inspired by his insight and and continue to be impressed with his devotion.
Sorry this rambling really has no point, but I am once again shedding some of my feelings here in the written word. Thanks for reading, and if you are a parent, remember to relish each and every moment you have with your child. If you have a parent who is still alive and you haven't called or contacted them lately, do yourself a favor and pick up the phone to say you love them. You will never regret what you do in life as much as you will regret what you have not done.
Here's a prayer we shared in worship today. I hope you love it as much as I do:
We cry out to you, O God
In the day, we seek your presence
In the night, we reach out for your comfort.
May we remember your wonders and your mighty deeds
And praise you, for your way is holy.
pray for peace, y'all,