Our worship was intergenerational this morning. One mother sat up front with her (I’m guessing) 18 month old daughter in her lap. And this toddler was holding onto a fancy little purse in the shape of a tiny Easter basket with velvet ribbons throughout. I smiled to myself and thought about the little purses and white gloves (and hats!!!) that I always carried/wore on Easter Sunday. And her brother, probably 5, was dressed in a purple dress shirt with a pink/purple plaid tie. His first ‘dress up’ Easter. What a treat!
A fairly new member of the church told the children’s story. She did a great job of inviting the participation of the children, who were mostly young (OK, they’re all young – I’m thinking that the oldest child who came forward to sit on the rug was probably 7). During the story, one of the children sat there very calmly and deliberately picking her nose -- visible to me, the choir, and probably another 20 members. In another lifetime, I would have been horrified. Instead of horror, I had to stifle giggles every time she flicked a booger onto the rug.
After church I was invited to share dinner with four families from the congregation: the host couple and their two children, both married with children of their own. This couple’s daughters grew up in the congregation. Another couple, longtime close friends of the host couple (are you with me?) whose daughters are now living in Manhattan, rounded out the group. One of the host’s daughters has a four month old baby. Being around infants is always sacred. I got in touch with my Inner Grandmother, a persona that will remain barren, probably, for a few more years anyhow.
The two other children who were present were 5 and 7. Between dinner and dessert, they set out to find their Easter goodies, which were hidden around the house and yard. They were given clues on how to find these treasures like they were on a scavenger hunt. The treasures were things like bubble machines, finger paints (that their Mother conveniently tried to leave behind at Grandma’s when they left), silly putty, and those round spinner thingies that you fire off with a trigger mechanism. [Can you tell it’s been a *long* time since I’ve bought toys???] We all had a good time with the scavenger hunt and the toys, but the finger paints remained unopened for today. And then we all entered a huge hunt for the 5 year old's shoes before they left to visit their other set of grandparents.
One of the best parts of this dinner was the conversation between the hostess and her longtime close friend about the church’s OWL program (Our Whole Lives, a lifespan curriculum developed jointly by the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ). The hostess’ friend teaches this class with the hostess’ daughter to the K-1 age group, which includes the 5 year old present at the dinner and the above-mentioned boy dressed in the purple shirt, among others. I have to say that it boggled my mind that these little sproutlings are learning about sexuality (Loving Touch = masturbation). But I admit to being a prude. It was heartwarming to hear these two friends discuss how it was for one of them to teach OWL with the other’s daughter. I love intergenerational activities and conversations and realize how few and far between they really are.
Finally, I was deeply touched when the hostess shared with me her conversation with her 7 year old granddaughter about how I was going to be leaving in a few weeks. She said that her granddaughter cried for several minutes and was outraged that I couldn’t stay. I got in touch with my grief of having to leave yet another precious group of children before I really got to know them and experience them over time. But this is all the more reason why I have been hungry to enter into another settled ministry where I really can be with children as they grow and flower.
The main thing I realized today that Easter is so much deeper when I share it with children. Transformation through the generations is a huge message for me this day.