Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday and Children

I just finished with a Good Friday service at my church. It was a Stations of the Cross experience. There were five stations, each accompanied by a portion of the crucifixion story of Christ, a reflection and an action of response. It was good. Very good. While I was going through the Stations, my visits lined up with a mother and her three daughters. The oldest was probably 13. The youngest, probably ... 7? I'm really terrible at guessing age. And weight. Those carnival guys win big on me every time. Anyway. One of the stations pointed specifically to the brokenness in the world, for which Jesus died. It was a flash movie filled with tragic images from the world - natural disasters, the holocaust, starvation, abandonment, massacres, accidents, explosions. It was pretty ... dark. And this mother stood with her three young daughters and watched it and reflected on it. And that was amazing to me. At first, I didn't really think anything of it. But then it hit me as they walked away ... it seems so strange to take children to a Good Friday service. Almost bad parenting, and borderline extreme/brainwashing. But I admire those parents. This world is broken. And though it's true that we don't want our children to experience any more of that brokenness and pain than we have to, although we want to shield them as much as we can, want to bear the weight of it for them, we cannot. They will encounter the reality of this world the second they step out the front door. There is no shield, there is no protection. But to enter into that pain with your children. To acknowledge it. To recognize it. Is somehow to take away its power. It's still horrible, but the brokenness of the world does not have to become your brokenness.
I do not particularly want to have children, or if I do have them ever, I'd rather adopt them at an older age -- where no one else wants them, where they're almost beyond help. Part of why i don't want to have them is that I don't want to break them. But I'm learning, from my friends who have children, that kids are resilient and much stronger than I'm inclined to think. Madeleine L'Engle, of A Wrinkle in Time fame, has a quote that says something like "If you have something important to say, put it in a book. It it's really important, put it in a children's book." There is something in a child's spirit that can endure so much more than adults can, I think. They are not tired. They have not been disillusioned. Their imaginations (and therefore their hope for something better) are still fully intact and functioning at optimum levels.
And no one really knows how to raise them, children. But somehow, we all have gotten to be adults, who are, and we're none the worse for the wear. We all have problems and we all have victories.
I hope that mother and father go home with their children and talk about what they thought about, what they saw, and the hope that we have through it. Perhaps it is bad parenting to expose young children to that pain without the hope of redemption, but because we have Christ, because we have Hope and because that does not HAVE to be the end of our lives, I think it is beautiful and right and strong and hard.

1 comment:

amyrose said...

Heather you really do have a way with words, for all that you say you aren't an author! That pretty much sums up EXACTLY how I feel as a mother.

Terrified, hopeful, weak, and strong at the same time. It's kind of amazing. So are you, as a matter of fact.