dripping wax.

Church candle on black

Church candle on black by KOREphotos. Shared under a Creative Commons license.

Last night we went to the Moravian Lovefeast at our church. We aren’t Moravian, so I guess this means we are good at borrowing other people’s traditions and co-opting them for our own purposes. I like the Lovefeast, the simple meal (love buns) and the carols. A friend of ours sat next to me, and when her fourth grader was done playing tone chimes, he came and sat with us, too. They live in our neighborhood and he goes to Mike’s school. He’s been so excited about Atticus, making plans about exactly when he will buy Atticus certain types of Legos, designating himself as the “big brother.” So, when Atticus started kicking during one of the songs, I told him, and when it was clear that he wanted to feel (but wasn’t sure if he should ask), I let him feel. From his face, the massive kicking that was going on apparently scarred him for life. I feel bad about that. But also kind of proud. It’s hard to freak out a fourth grade boy.

Though I am very much against manufactured moments (which is why we don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day all that much), I often fall into the trap of trying to manufacture moments at church. I have to feel a certain way, give myself over to the music, or maybe it doesn’t count. I try so hard to make it count, because I feel consumed with fear and doubt, alone and confused and so much like a failure. I want to do church right, so that something in my life can make sense. And so, of course, I leave feeling empty most of the time, because I can’t make those moments work, can’t sing the songs perfectly or keep my attention from wandering.

During the Lovefeast, I watched the boys around us. I watch boys all the time now, taking mental notes. The third grader between his parents, the kindergartener standing on the pew so he could see. They listened to the music, wiggled in their seats, doodled. They participated in the children’s choir, played the tone chimes. Their parents shushed them, and they sang along with the songs, holding the candles high. They accidentally dripped wax on the coats of the people in front of them. And I realized: those are the things that I hope are going to happen to us. Just having the boys there, being together as a family, that is enough. Because, whether the parents know it at the time or not, they are holy moments. Those young faces lit up by candlelight, singing “Joy to the World,” dripping wax everywhere they go.

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