Walking into church with the four kids we received several greetings from people we didn’t know. Something about a family the size of ours seems to draw a lot of attention. As we all walked past the adoption and foster care ministry table the woman staffing it smiled at me and said, “Are you interested in adoption of foster care? I must have looked mortified, because she quickly added, “or know anyone who is?” We entered the church and managed to find a pew that would accommodate all of us. I quickly rearranged our seating order, Erica seated away from her sister, Olivia, Diego next to Nico but beside me. Once everyone was arranged to minimize potential sibling conflict, I made sure that Diego had crayons and the bible lesson to color. Then I put my phone on silent and warned the older kids not to take out their electronics in church, upon threat of losing their electronics for the week. Finally, I settled into the pew and said a silent prayer for peace and stillness. CALM.
CLICK. What? I heard the sound of something clicking. I looked over and Eric was playing with Nico’s magnets he had taken out of his pockets. I confiscated the magnets, gave Erica and Nico the evil eye and shifted my attention back to the reading. BREATHE. FOCUS. I managed to make it all the way to the end of the sermon when I suddenly noticed that Erica had rearranged her seating and somehow worked it so she was seated next to Olivia. TROUBLE. I noticed Olivia and Erica, baiting each other. In church. Just when I was about to reach over and threaten them with loss of liberty, the priest caused a diversion.”The Peace of the Lord be with you.” The girls quickly shifted their attention and in unison replied, “And also with you.” RELIEF and REPRIEVE. Erica turned to hug me and said, “Peace be with you.” When someone reaches out to shake your hand and wishes you peace, it’s really best to respond likewise, and not inflict punishment or cast them dirty looks. Erica and Olivia escaped punishment. And I again tried to focus on PEACE. I turned to the woman seated behind me to offer the sign of peace. She asked, “Wow, are these all your kids?” I told her they were mine, and she said “God Bless you as she reached out to shake my hand. Then she added “Peace be with you!”
I think she meant it. I know I needed it. AMEN.