There has been so much FUN this month. You are hilarious, delighting us with your blossoming sense of humor. You initiate games of peek-a-boo with us or your sister, you run away shrieking before bedtime and try to incite us to tickle you just by the tone of your voice and the teasing look in your eyes. You run fast. You climb high. You stop at nothing to get up the stairs to find daddy practicing in his office when you hear the organ. Your excitement cannot be contained when you see a flag as we drive down the road and I’m starting to realize that your memory is becoming solidified and you know where to look for flags on the routes we drive most often. You’re starting to figure out the concept of a camera and you’ve offered me a posed smile a couple times recently.
You focus so intently on whatever you’re working on, and these days that is usually the assembly of a long traffic jam of wheeled toys. With your focus and determination has come lots of frustration and all its little sound effects and we tell you a thousand times each day that when you feel frustrated you should ask for help. You are learning to do so many things on your own and I’m afraid its only a few more months before you want to do everything by yourself. Today you tried to help buckle your seatbelt. You also tried to pull the keys out of the lock on the car door and succeeded in bending my key ring open completely. You cried, afraid that you had broken Mommy’s keys.
You sing all the time. You sing yourself to sleep. You sing when you wake up and are alone in your crib. You sing when we’re in the car. You sing to Meredith sometimes. You sing whenever you find a book or something that looks like a church bulletin. We’re noticing a distinct tonal awareness beginning to develop and we’re realizing that we’ve already doomed you to life as a nerd.
My favorite thing about this month has been watching you thrive in the security of ritual. You just know how things are supposed to be. I was upstairs the other night when Daddy gave you your bath and I discovered that you now do the entire process of brushing your teeth by yourself except for uncapping the toothpaste. You just know how it’s supposed to go, step by step by step. In the morning you know that we say the Lord’s Prayer after you get dressed and you pull my hands up to cover your eyes since you still aren’t sure how to close your eyes by yourself. When we sit down to dinner you reach for our hands so we can pray. (After you beg for candle light.) You are even learning the rituals that take place in church and it is a joy to see you growing into a worshiper.
I think using ritual to create security in your life is one of the most important things I can do as your Mommy. We’re not big into schedules around here, but we do love sameness and predictability and patterns. We don’t watch the clock much, but I think you feel confident that I will always be there, doing dishes, while you eat breakfast, and then when you’ve helped me with the rest of the chores, we will play till lunch time. You know when we get to your bedroom after reading the Bible upstairs at night that we will sing to you, and you rest your head peaceful on Daddy and listen, and after Daddy prays you just give me that look that says, “OK, go ahead. I know I’m about to get tickled and I can take it.” Then tonight you took responsibility all your own to distribute hugs, because you know that’s how we do it.
Watching you blossom amidst this security, I’ve thought a hundred times in the last few months of C. S. Lewis’s wise words to his friend Malcolm regarding his disapproval of the frequent revisions of the Book of Common Prayer. Lewis was Anglican, and he had learned to worship by using those words, and he said they were like a dance floor. When the floor keeps changing you can’t pay all your attention to the dance, but when it is permanent your mind is free, using the forms to engage your heart. There are plenty of people who will take issue with this concept of worship but I hope you’ll see the good that wise Dr. Lewis and your parents love so much.
I’ve been struck often recently what a responsibility I have to teach you not just to live well, to love worship, to listen to God’s Word, to obey authority, and to take care of the people you love. I could teach you all of that and you could be a little Pharisee, doing it all just the way it is supposed to be, the way we always do it. Just like brushing teeth. So I’ve been singing a lot of hymns to you lately that tell the story of Jesus saving us. I’ve been praying confession for both of us when we pray together, planting the seeds that you are a sinner, too, no matter how much I’m proud of you, how much you do a perfect A+ fantastic high-five job in the grocery store. You still need Jesus because your heart is not clean. I’ve been praying for you, too, for Jesus to establish His kingdom in your heart as you grow. That is the only thing in the whole world that matters and the first moment your ritual is emptied of what it carries you will have nothing left.
I hope that as you grow you will become strong and happy in loving Jesus and living to glorify God for all He has done to make us and re-make us. And I hope you will find a million little liturgies in your every nook and cranny of life that remind you to dance atop them as the tools they are.