I lead the Children's Liturgy at my church about once a month, and part of me was thinking of giving up because often times when there's a big group, the kids get out of hand and I struggle to get them to listen to me or not speak and scream over each other. I spend more time trying to get them to be quiet and listen to one another, teaching them about respect and how to show respect, than doing what I'm actually supposed to be doing. I don't how teachers do it. Honestly, I have so much more respect for pre-school and elementary school teachers now.
It's only 20-30 minutes each Sunday though, and I always just think that if I can make even the slightest impact in these kids' lives, then AWESOME. Children's Liturgy is meant to go over the readings with the kids in a way that their developing minds can understand, and let's face it, the Bible can be complicated and boring if you're just reading it straight. So, I try to try to relate it to their lives, and also try to make church less boring for them. I also have them help me read it and sing the psalms and alleluias, so it's more fun for them for sure.
This Sunday, I was hoping there would be a small group, and what do ya know, it's like God heard me and only three little kids ran up to the front when it was time to lead them out of church and into the children's room. Well, two kids ran up, and one, very timidly led by his grandmother, also came to join.
The timid child, who we'll call A, was new to the group and he is just four years old. The other two are brothers, one eight and one five. The eight year old, whom we'll call G, as much as I adore him, is usually the one that drives me nutso; however, while not much less rambunctious today, he really surprised me in a way that reaffirmed what an innately sweet child I know him to be.
As I finished the first reading, I looked up at A and noticed he looked terrified, so I asked him if he was okay. He said, "no." So, I asked him if he was scared. He said, "Yes." I asked if it was because of the reading and he shook his head yes. The reading talked about fires and earthquakes and so I told him not to worry, Jesus was just showing us that no matter what, he will be there for us and he will protect us, even when we can't see him. We have nothing to fear.
What really impressed me and warmed my heart was that G noticed, too, and tried to comfort him and show him there's nothing to be scared of, too. He said his first time in this class, he was scared, too, because he had no idea what was going on and didn't understand anything. The protective brother came out and I just wanted to hug them all.
This occurred throughout the rest of our time together this Sunday, and it was a reminder to me that there is a reason I'm here with them every few Sundays. As much as I hope to touch their lives, they also very much touch and teach me so much. By the end when I was walking them back inside the church, A clung to me, held my hand, and almost wouldn't leave me. After mass I saw him and his family at donuts and coffee, and the way he lit up when he saw me just melted my heart. I wouldn't have been surprised if there was a puddle of heart at my feet. He kept wanting me to go back into the class with him, and had I not also signed up to volunteer to help serve the coffee and donuts, I would have ran in there with him. When he was leaving with his family, he ran up to me and gave me the biggest hug.
He has no idea how much his love meant to me, and I'd chase all the beetles and lions and everything else that scares him away if I could. G also has no idea how big his small gestures to make A feel safe were today. Kids, when you nurture them, they in turn learn how to nurture. They need to feel safe, because when they feel safe, they also learn to be free.
BIG LOVE & HUGS
A young Girl Scout rung my parents' doorbell last night selling cookies and I heard my dad's voice light up when he opened the door to see who it was. And then I lit up. You see, I was a Girl Scout. So when my parents continue to buy Girl Scout cookies each year, I know it goes beyond nostalgia, beyond succumbing to gluttony over calories we most certainly do not need, and beyond sort of "returning the favor" for remembering all those who supported.
Each year my parents continue to support the dreams of girls in our community, because they know how important Girl Scouts was for me. Being in Girl Scouts gave me lifelong friends--sisters, really. It taught me how to be a leader, to do great things that strengthen our community, and always give back to the community. Perhaps I was just lucky, but it was also one of the few places I knew I could always be myself. Looking back and realizing that, that was probably one of the most important things I could have growing up--is the knowledge and security that I am my own person and I can be my own person.
I was really upset when a friend of mine in university called out the capitalist nature of Girl Scout cookies, and ranted about how we shouldn't buy Girl Scout cookies, because most of the money doesn't even go to the individual troops--which is true. Most of the revenue goes back the larger Girl Scouts of America organization. I remember seeing the break down of what percentage went where and whether or not it is right or wrong is irrelevant.
What matters is that that girl selling the cookies reaps rewards beyond revenue and buying Girl Scouts cookies really comes down to the intangible support you give that girl. When you buy cookies from her, you give her courage, you give her encouragement, you show her that her hard work will allow her to realize her dreams. She learns that sometimes you just have to put yourself out there. You also show her that she is part of a community--a community that supports her dreams and aspirations.
When we give our girls the chance to be great leaders, they become great leaders.
Remember that this Girl Scout cookie season, and every Girl Scout cookie season. No matter how ridiculous inflation continues to raise the price on this great American tradition, remember that when you buy cookies from a Girl Scout you're doing a lot more for that little girl, and hopefully one day she'll realize that, too.
BIG LOVE & HUGS