This past Thursday, I sat in a special meeting for worship at our school that celebrated the life and work and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is something we do every year, which starts with our Kindergarten students leading a Peace March to the meeting room. Students and parents line the hallways as these 5 and 6 year olds walk silently, holding posters they have made with messages of peace – Shar with echuthr, Be cind, help frenz. Aside from the adorable spelling, their absolute silence, save the sound of a bell that their teachers ring as they lead the march, is mesmerizing, moving, inspiring. During meeting for worship, I was about to share a message, but the meeting was about to end, so I guess it must live here and I will have to live with missing that moment of possibility.
A number of parents brought their young children to our meeting, who occasionally gurgled, cried, and made other typical baby noises as their parents tried to rock them to quiet down. I remembered feeling that discomfort. My wife and I brought our son to meeting for worship as a baby, taking turns trying to sneak into the hallway until he quieted down. Fortunately, at every meeting, numerous members told us that the ‘ministry of children’ was as valuable as any message an older person might share.
Children live in the highs and lows and as they grow older they start to work more toward the in-between. Since returning from winter break, I have seen both the highs and lows as children are thrilled to see their friends and then are too tired to function. Their happiness can register magnitudes higher than most adults can experience. Their sadness can be equally overwhelming – so overwhelming that you might just lay with your head on the cold floor, thumb in your mouth, and a blanket wrapped around (yup, that happened today).
I am glad that I don’t need to lay on the floor any more to feel better, although maybe I should try it out. I am jealous, however, of the absolute joy that children can feel in what appear to be ordinary moments. The pride in our kindergarteners eyes brought many parents to tears. The ability of a group of young children, from two to eleven years old, to sit in deep, meaningful silence; to watch MLK’s address at the Lincoln Memorial (some for the first time); and to sing “We shall overcome” with purpose and the seeds of understanding in their voice is nothing short of awesome.
I am lucky to work in a building where I am able to bear witness to these moments every day. We teachers and parents are lucky to be given the opportunity not only to guide our children through their highs and lows, to help them live a little more in the in-between, but also to be inspired by them, to feel an exalted sense of joy again.