Reading and Writing

My four year-old sits quietly in the pew with his pen and paper. All around him, the sanctuary is dark and full of mystery. 
His slow hand moves and concentrates across the space and centimeters of paper. I hear deep, unspoken conversations taking place between him and the lines and shapes. 
He works like a surgeon, speaks from behind a mask. On my side of childhood, words can get lost here.

But he remains present in his space. He listens to the curves and follows their subtle turns.

A word captures his attention, though his parents don’t know it yet. We glance over, from time to time, to watch him, thinking we’re the ones monitoring him. 
He is still and focused. Like a prayer.
And then he reveals his work. He lifts the word like a beating organ. And smiles. His eyes are bright. They give a new shape to mystery.
My heart opens and picks up an extra beat when I see the word dangle from his hand. Plaque crumbles to the sanctuary floor. I’m breathing again, looking up, once again, for lines and shapes.
And for my Father’s eyes.

This post is being shared with L.L. Barkat for …

53 thoughts on “Reading and Writing

  1. I’ve been teaching a women’s Sunday School class at my church, and we were talking about different ways we process God’s word. A number of the women in our class are artists, and they said doodling during a sermon helps them concentrate. One of the moms said she was always trying to discourage her boys from doodling during church. We told her, “For heavens sake! Let the boys doodle!”

    • Yes, let the children come — and doodle. As a new teacher, I used to take offense when a student doodled “instead of listened.”

      But doodling can help a person process and retain information. Research supports it. It’s just another life example, I guess, of how sometimes an activity will look like a disruption. But, really, it’s just different and messy and maybe beautiful.

    • “Let the children come.” Whenever I hear that phrase, I can almost feel someone start to jump out from under my skin. Phooey on me for telling that child to get back inside. Thanks for your comment, Melody. Sorry I was so late in responding.

  2. “He is still and focused. Like a prayer”
    Oh my.
    May my life look this way.
    God reveals so much through our sweet children.

  3. Thanks for stopping by my site. Yes, I think a lot of times we need a rest from thoughts of “what shall I do when I’m finished with THIS that I’m doing now?”

    Thanks for sharing your meeting with God as pointed to by your son. May you have many more “special moments” when God draws near, and love seems clear.

    • Maybe it’s okay for us to act like children … for us to discover the holy and sacred, like a child. Maybe we can allow ourselves to stumble and lean into the holy — and trust that understanding will come after we learn our lines and shapes.

      Always so glad to feel your spirit stop by here, Jennifer.

  4. Ah the plaque that was left behind there because of your precious child. Loved that line!
    And how your son’s purity and the light in his eyes must be a daily reminder of God’s grace.
    I can picture him intent on his purpose…holy! To be like that child once again, focused, but so innocently and naturally…just the way it was meant to be!

  5. We never know how God moves inside the heads and hearts of our children, do we? Sometimes I want to rein it all in, grab control of their spiritual lives…but the Holy Spirit? A better teacher than I, I warrant. A beautiful moment, Matthew. See how you capture them?

    • Controlling the spiritual lives of our children. While I’ve yet to arrive at this spot on the obstacle course, I know it’s coming. I can only imagine the lessons, bruises and scribbles that await me …

    • “…experience the holy in a way we have long since abandoned.” I could probably devote an entire year to meditating over the truth in that line. Meanwhile, of course, the children just do their thing. :) Glad to hear from you. By the way, how’s that rug holding up?

  6. Oh, that I might be so still and focused, writing truth so clearly.

    My teen daughters are making art in the other room–whimsical swirling letters that spell things like, “You Are Loved.” It is true, beautiful, colorful, and delightful.

    But this…these letters in the hand of a four-year-old boy…this is…holy.

    • Children reveal so many beautiful moments indeed. But let’s face it: a few moments more and they start using a finger to remove the contents from their noses. Their moments of beauty are so perfect and, yes, so fleeting. We must savor them and learn from them, while we can. Thanks for your comment, Ann. And by the way, I really enjoyed your recent piece about the art museum (linked over at The High Calling)!

    • Before my boys came along, I didn’t really have any reference point for how God would move through their hearts — and then invade my own heart. It’s crazy stuff. Thanks so much for visiting, Kristy. May God bless your family.

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