Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Teaching the Child to Pray

Driving home from ice skating this winter -- ah, ice skating, the subject of many blog notes on my phone, some of which may someday be turned into blog entries -- we pulled in behind an ambulance. Its rollers weren't on, but it was lit inside. And, in this tiny mobile theatre hurtling down the freeway, someone was lying on a stretcher and talking to the EMT.

We passed in a blink.  I thought He'en wouldn't notice, but she did. She said, "There is someone who is sick in there. I wish I could make it better." (Every time I am tempted to think she is a complete sociopath, she surprises me with a burst of empathy.)

So we talked about what she could do. And we talked about how, sometimes, there is nothing you can do. Well, we concluded, there is always one thing we can do. Always, we can pray.

Now, as previously established in this blog, my theology is shaky and my faith often equally so, although admittedly less so since the arrival of my offspring.

But I have undertaken to raise these children. There may come a time in their lives when they have nothing to hold onto except faith. Faith in something, faith in anything.  Despite my own misgivings in the religion area, I feel that I should give them some avenue for hope in case they need it down the line. Some, um, cross-denominational faith training.

So, shamelessly relying on my memory of the Cliff Notes on To Kill a Mockingbird, I told He'en that she could pray. She could pray for courage for the sick person, and pray for strength for the sick person and their family, and pray for wisdom for all the people helping the sick person so that they would know the best thing to do.

I explained that you don't just pray for things you want, because God doesn't work that way, but that you can pray for the ability to get through it all, on your own behalf or anyone else's, because God definitely works that way.

I tried hard to put it all in five-year-old language.  Then, feeling that I'd done the best I could, I shut up for a while and concentrated on driving while He'en chewed on my little homily.

She was very quiet for a while, and then,

"I blew him some kisses," she announced with calm assurance.

I nodded, my eyes welling up with Mom-tears, and told her that, yes, I was sure that would help. And I made a little prayer of my own, then, that her faith in something, anything, would always be exactly that strong.

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