My Sunday mornings are spent in a room with children. Anywhere from 15 to 60 kids, some as young as 3, others up to 11. They stream into the little chapel, and they join me in worship for 30 minutes, where I have the joy of sharing the gospel with them, singing a song or two, and praying with them. I do this throughout the morning.
I have been struggling to know how much to share in this space about what has become a joyful journey for me. There are concerns about privacy, respecting the individuality of each child, respecting the trust that their parents have given me. So I do know I will share no pictures, share no names, keep much of this job of mine private. But, of course, I cannot help but tell the stories that have started to shape my own spirit.
And so this brings me to the Sunday. A gospel passage about persistent prayer. And a young 7 year old parishioner in desperate need of such persistent prayer. She has cancer-- has had cancer for years-- and I don't know the details of her medical situation other than that our pastor has asked that we refrain from writing "get well" in favor of other comforting messages.
It's always a delicate situation to tell of such hardship to small children. Will they understand? Will it be too much? Many of you know that I have been journeying in my life towards authentically living alongside those who are suffering-- rejecting that temptation to only talk about the pretty stuff. And so I explained that we would be making cards for this dear little girl, told the story of her being sick. "She loves to count her cards." I told them. "That's her favorite thing."
And so, without even a moment's hesitation, they picked up their crayons and set to work. Joyfully, busily making beauty for this sick little girl. As they filed out of chapel, I was left with a pile of cards in my hands. I gently examined each one. Pictures of flowers, hospital beds, angels. Every single child, mischievous or studious, took the task with utmost seriousness. A night sky filled with stars. A picture of two little girls holding hands.
And messages with a simple beauty that only a child could have written.
"We are praying for you, and just so you know I don't really have green hair."
"Angels are coming to you."
A card with little robots and trucks. "God is with you" written across the top.
And looking through those cards, I knew in my heart that the Gospel had indeed been proclaimed. And I am glad I had ears to hear it.