Invitation: “an often formal request to be present or participate”
Reverence: “honor or respect felt or shown”
Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary
Up to very recently, I would tell you that the concepts of reverence and small children do not go well together. Reverence? That is a respect I can more readily show God, my husband, and other loved ones either BEFORE my kids wake up or AFTER they’ve gone to bed. Its a lot harder in between. My social life feels very fragmented. I have half of half of half of conversations while chasing toddlers and helping little ones maneuver the bathroom.
I have gotten pretty good at praying on the run 🙂 Probably because I am on the run quite a bit. With young kids in two different daycare/elementary school facilities, I have bee promoted to a pretty efficient chauffer. (Though there is surely room for improvement as this really means that there is more time for the 4 year old to observe my driving and imitate that which may not be truly imitable). Yesterday at a very brief red light she exclaimed “GEEZ! Mommy, these people need to GO! Why won’t they go!?! WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?” I winced. She didn’t learn that from Daddy.
It was on such a car ride to school that I was struck by God’s invitation to reverence. I have recently gotten in the habit of praying with our daughter as we approach school. Nothing philosophically earth shattering, but I figure a good thing to do and example to set. Obviously, since I am driving, my head isn’t bent, my eyes are not closed. (Imagine what the other drivers would be saying about me if they were!)
“No mommy, I don’t think you are doing it right,” she declared. Not sassy, just concerned that maybe I had somehow missed the boat on how to pray. Initially I was struck by what a bummer that my child sees God so rigidly, that you can only pray a certain way to think that is what it takes for Him to listen. I debated on how to explain God’s great availability when she politely cut me off, “yes, Mom, I just like to pray like this…” In the middle of the school parking lot with families whisking around us to get inside the building before the bell sounded, her little head bent, her nose scrunched up, her hands folded, she whispered. I have no idea what she said. It wasn’t for me. She was having a moment with God.
“That’s how I like to do it.” She declared. “Can we pray like that in the mornings at school?”
It doesn’t take long, probably about 30 seconds. Most days I still have no idea what she says. But she is having a moment of reverence and it makes our hearts glad. Her invitation – a 4 year olds simple request for me to be present and participate – is showing me reverence in a new light: it is possible, even for a busy working mom on the run.