Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Litany for Children

In an old hymnal that I discovered among my Great Aunt Sis's treasures, I found a lovely gem calling me to love the children and bless them, and in so doing, to become like them.

Jesus, from thy throne on high,
Far above the bright blue sky,
Look on us with loving eye:
Hear us, Holy Jesus.

Little children need not fear,
When they know that thou art near:
Thou dost love us, Saviour dear:
Hear us, Holy Jesus.

Little hearts may love thee well,
Little lips thy love may tell,
Little hymns thy praises swell:
Hear us, Holy Jesus.

Little lives may be divine,
Little deeds of love may shine,
Little ones be wholly thine:
Hear us, Holy Jesus.

Jesus, once an infant small,
Cradled in the oxen's stall,
Though the God and Lord of all:
Hear us, Holy Jesus.

Jesus, thou dost love us still,
And it is thy holy will
That we should be safe from ill
Hear us, Holy Jesus.

Be thou with us every day,
In our work and in our play,
When we learn and when we pray:
Hear us, Holy Jesus.

Make us brave without a fear,
Make us happy, full of cheer,
Sure that thou art always near:
Hear us, Holy Jesus.

May we prize our Christian name,
May we guard it free from blame,
Fearing all that causes shame:
Hear us, Holy Jesus.

May we grow from day to day,
Glad to learn each holy way,
Ever ready to obey,
Hear us, Holy Jesus.

Jesus, Son of God most high,
Who didst in a manger lie,
Who upon the cross didst die:
Hear us, Holy Jesus.

Jesus, from thy heavenly throne,
Watching o'er each little one,
Til our life on earth is done:
Hear us, Holy Jesus.

Jesus, whom we hope to see
Calling us in heaven to be
Happy evermore with thee:
Hear us, Holy Jesus.  Amen.

~Thomas Pollock, 1871

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Piano Man

Cortney Chintermeyer
A large crowd gathered in the noise and fray around the auctioneer.

The man in the red hat wanted to buy the piano.

The man in the green hat wanted to buy the piano, too. He called out a bid to counter the first offer.

A woman in the crowd asked who was bidding against the man in the red hat. Someone answered, "Frank Sutton."

I looked up at my Grandpa. His jaw was tight.  His eyes were focused. He held my hand, squeezing it too tightly.

Time seemed to stand still as my mind recorded snapshot moments. The sun in the blue sky. The man in the red hat. The man in the green hat. The auctioneer with his hands scanning across the sea of faces.

A hush fell over the crowd as the crescendo of anticipation intensified, but in my head there was a roar as loud as a freight train.

 " the man in the green hat.

Someone yelled,  "Did that little girl get her piano?"

Grandpa laughed and waved his green hat in the air as he pulled me into a hug.  My life had been forever interrupted,  changed by one extraordinary moment tucked into the corner of an ordinary day.

Usually we are too preoccupied with the mundane around us to live fully awake. But life is in the interruptions. The moments that catch us off guard wake us up and cause us to focus on the important rather than the urgent.

My piano student stopped suddenly in the middle of a song and stared at blood dripping on the keyboard..  As she touched her wiggly front tooth, her eyes widened with panic.

After I had pulled the tooth and cleaned her mouth, she poked her tongue through the hole and laughed. "I'm bigger now, Teacher! I got bigger right here in the middle of my piano lesson. We didn't know that would happen, did we?"

Monday, June 3, 2013

Arms of Love

Mary Cassatt
Four month old Lydia would not be comforted.  I followed the familiar sound of her increasing wails to the church nursery.  Peggy, who was loving the children in the nursery that morning, smiled at me in relief. "I think she needs one of her own,"  she said.

I snuggled Lydia close to me and began to quiet her with my love. Singing songs over her that she had been hearing since birth soothed her quickly to sleep.

She needs one of her own.

Baby Ellie was struggling with Tarry, a gentleman in our church who was trying to give her a bottle. I gave him a couple of suggestions, but when they didn't work he handed a frustrated Ellie to me. "She knows you. Why don't you try?"  Ellie settled into my arms, reached her hand up to touch my face as she always did when I fed her. She smiled at me, closed her eyes and began to enjoy her bottle peacefully.

She knows you.

Johnathan snuggled against me with his bottle. As the other children came to tell him good night, he pushed them away and began fussing. "He's tired now. He needs to be alone with me so he can go to sleep," I explained to them.

He needs to be alone with me.

When Nathanael was small, he would leave the noise and fray of other children to hold my hand.  It comforted him while he rested. Sometimes he would talk with me.  Sometimes he simply held my hand, reassuring himself he was safe and loved. After a few moments he would return to his play.

Comfort and rest in my presence.

 Maisy runs to me, arms outstretched, eager for the love she knows is always available for her. Looking at my familiar face, hearing my familiar voice, she delights in being with me. We like each other. We like being together. We think of one another and talk about one another even when we are apart.

Love and joy in my presence. 

Three year old Hannah looked up from her playful dancing to see a crowd of unfamiliar faces. Panic and tears came quickly.  She was lost, so afraid and overwhelmed....Then she saw me watching her and I smiled.    I reached out my arms and said softly, "Hannah, come to me".

The Lord is my refuge and strength, an ever present help in times of trouble. 

There is a Redeemer who loves you and wants you to be His own.  The Creator who knitted you together in the beginning of your moments knows everything about you.  Your fears can be soothed by His love.  Your frustrations can be tenderly smoothed away while you rest in His presence.

"Come to me," He says softly. "I will give you rest.  I will comfort you; I will quiet you with My love.  I will rejoice over you with singing.  In My presence you will find joy and I will give you rest."