Love, Grow, & Overflow

My cup overflows. My laundry does too.

Tag: hands

Waving

Photo Credit: zen Flickr via Compfight cc

[For AJK]

I teach preschool.  For a few hours a day, I join paths with four year olds whose view of life is much like looking out from within a bubble: the world’s a little wavery and unsure, but it’s bright and moving and streaked with rainbows. My kids find joy and truth in the smallest experiences: digging in the dirt, hitting a balloon, finding letters on street signs and license plates.

At my preschool, there’s a wall where a swath of sunlight streams over the fence near the sidewalk. Light stretches along the top half of the wall, angling down low enough for four year olds to stretch their arms up and cast shadows on the bricks.  We call it the shadow wall, and on sunny days you can see a bunch of chubby-fingered shadow arms bobbing and waving as we walk by.

While coming in from the playground the other day, I cheerfully exclaimed, “Wave at your shadows!” I was walking backward, leading but facing the kids, so I didn’t notice the two young adults coming around the corner on their way to a recovery group inside.  I almost bumped into them and felt sheepish, caught speaking to my kids in a singsong voice like sunshine was magic, like shadows on the wall were the most interesting things in the world. The women looked kind, wise, and tired, wearing comfortable clothes and carrying coffees. They gave us small, polite smiles as they passed us and headed inside.

I have so much respect for the women who show up each week.  I know nothing about their lives, but I know they are fighters, and that every day they come is a day when they’ve chosen to rise and keep going.   They walk past my preschoolers and I am aware that there’s a point where the bubble pops, where the voices don’t rise and fall like singing, where life gets dirtier in ways that can’t be brushed off quickly at the end of playground time. These women rise anyway. Wavery. Weary. They raise their arms alongside each other, face their shadows.  They stand, searching the shape of their own hands on bricks.

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Like a Hand

My one-year-old spent most of his short life as a passive observer, carefully watching his older, bolder sister.  Suddenly, he is a spitfire himself.  He self-advocates by shouting, pushing, or ripping a toy out of her hands when he feels he’s been wronged.  His sister is not one to back down easily, so I often find myself wrenching a toy from first one iron fist and then another.  My kids’ soft, dimpled toddler hands are deceptively strong.

In my religious tradition, children have the opportunity to go through confirmation when they reach a certain age – usually, around seventh or eighth grade.  My childhood church  was very traditional in its approach, so for an hour and a half each week, we were instructed in a narrow conference room with tweed wallpaper, walls lined with thick-framed portraits of previous pastors.

To prove we were ready to be confirmed, we were questioned in front of the congregation in between church services.  On Questioning Sunday, I stood for my first question.  The pastor asked, “How does faith save?”  I didn’t remember the question anywhere on our study sheets.  I stammered out an answer about being saved through faith by grace given from Jesus.  The pastor paused, cocked an eyebrow, and asked again, “How does faith save?”  I stared at him blankly.  He said, “The correct answer is ‘like a hand.’  You may sit down.”

That answer has bugged me for years.  Like a hand?  What does that even mean?   I recently got my answer as I came across a quote from theologian Jean Taffin.  In the early 1600s, he wrote,

“…even if you have only a tiny spark of true faith, you are still a child of God.  No matter how small, faith grips and appropriates Jesus Christ – not halfway but fully, like a young child taking an entire apple in his little hand and holding it tightly, even though not with the strength of man.”

I love looking at faith that way: a seed, a spark, an embryo.  Tiny, shaky, enough.  We grasp with what we have, no matter how small, and faith saves… just like a hand.