Tonight is my adoration night. I leave the house at 10:30pm and I "watch" for my hour between 11pm and midnight. Four out of five of the last Sundays I have brought at least one of my children to adoration with me. Now its unusual for our children, even with our sleep struggles, to be up at 10:30 on any given night. For some reason we have always had a child awake late on Saturday and my solution to the problem was to go ahead and take the opportunity to bring them to adoration.
This week I had grand plans for adoration. In a few short weeks I have a talk I am supposed to be giving at my parish. I have a vague idea of what I plan to talk about. Tonight was going to be my night to plant my face in the ground and listen to God. God had other plans. At 10:20 my daughter overheard me tell my wife that I had to leave for adoration. She runs eagerly up to me and says "Daddy, I want to go to adoration." This was quickly followed by my two older boys. The first thought that popped into my mind was "great, I will not get my answers tonight". I had 10 minutes to get three children ready -- ages 6, 5, and 4. We piled in the van and I grabbed a CD -- the seasonally inappropriate Christmas chant CD my brother-in-law brought back from Germany.
The trip to the chapel was littered with the usual smattering of arguments that tend to go on between my children. My oldest was distraught that this wasn't just going to be his special time with me. He was indignant at having to share adoration with his siblings -- I understood his pain. My plans were long dashed. I was wondering what I was getting myself into. With one child I have a great deal of control. I can read stories and within a few minutes I know I will have a sleeping child. After all, its kind of late. Three is a new dynamic.
We pulled into the chapel parking lot. My daughter wanted to be carried which was a no-go because I had to have free hands to carry pillows and type in the security code at the door. When we got in, as parents often do, I suggested a quick visit to the bathroom. Finally we went to the door to enter the room with Jesus. My children all walked in. My boys laid prostrate before the Eucharist along with myself. My daughter was a little unsure of what to do. I tried to get them to settle in, just as I always do, near me and as FAR away from any other person who might be there. One son tugged on the other which resulted in a tackle. I diffused the situation calmly and sat them close to me. Now the poor soul who has the hour before me always stays til 11pm. Tonight his usual 10 minute ritual before leaving was cut to an amazingly swift 30 seconds. That left me, three children and seventy minutes with Jesus.
After a few moments I realized that I forgot to bring a bible in before entering the chapel. My intent was to read the multiplication of the loaves to my children. I wandered out for 15 seconds to grab the bible. When I returned ALL three of my children had wandered UP TO the monstrance. I felt indignant. My instinct was to pull them back to where I had set them but I felt a calm reassurance that I was supposed to leave them there.
Matt 19:13-14 Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked them, but Jesus said, "Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."
God had never so clearly placed a verse in my head. Jesus was calling them here. They stood in wonder. They asked questions. They said "Hi" to Jesus. They did as little children do, demonstrating faith mountains larger than the piddling amount I eek out. They were here to teach me about how to believe in Jesus. Eventually I ushered them to the back. My four year old daughter insisted that I let her sleep with a rosary. My five year old son snuggled in next to me. I asked him "So, do you like being here with Jesus". "Yeah daddy" he replied. "There is no place I would rather be". My six year old snuggled quietly at my feet. Tonight, I fell asleep with my children.
When midnight rolled around the woman who keeps watch after me came in. She has watched on and off this odd progression of weeks. I leave with thoroughly asleep children hanging over my shoulder and toss out a truncated wave as I walk out the door. She has expressed great joy that they want to be there. Trust me, its not my grand parenting skills that has me dragging little children out at odd hours of the night in a questionable part of town to spend time with God. Its all them. Tonight though, I was in a pickle. I had to get three sleeping children into the car. She held the door for the first two. When I went to grab my daughter I told her the beginning of this story -- how my daughter asked and the boys insisted on coming too. The light glistened just so that I could see she was crying. I said good night and put my daughter in the car. All the while home I kept thinking about what it was that made her cry. I knew what it was. She saw the faith of little children. Ones who show up and walk right up to Jesus and say "Hi".
Monday, August 4, 2008
Let the little children come to me....
A beautiful story from William. Posted here with permission.