Here’s the song reference.
Sunday morning brought a little, pleasant surprise. Bugaboo generally attends Mass with Manie and Deedaw on Saturday evening, and I usually take Beanie to the early Mass on Sunday with me. We’re still working on Mr. Man and Baby Guy. Since Saturday had been a very busy day with a very late night for the tribe, I had decided not to awaken Beanie at 6:30 on Sunday morning, as a sleep-deprived Beanie is a cranky Beanie, and usually a disruptive-at-Mass Beanie.
To my joy, Beanie shambled out of the girls’ room of her own accord at about a quarter to seven, flumped down in her chair at the kitchen table, and asked if she has awoken too late for Mass. She favored me with a brilliant smile when I replied that she did, in fact, have time to eat breakfast and dress for church. Thirty-five minutes later, we were out the door, Beanie clutching the children’s Bible she always carries to church with her. She has discovered that, if she gets fidgety during Mass, she can read the Bible to give herself something to do, and she will generally be favored with lots of smiles and praise from the parishioners seated nearby for doing so.
We arrived a minute into Mass, and thus sat very near the front of the church. I’ll never understand why those seats are the last to fill. Beanie did a stellar job of following along with the Mass, joining in the prayers she knew, giving me big, happy hugs during the ones she didn’t, and she only needed a spare handful of reminders to keep her eyes on the altar. Finally, the moment came for Beanie’s absolute favorite part of the Mass, to wit: the exchanging of the sign of peace.
During the sign of peace, Beanie is absolutely free to be the loving, affectionate child she is. Anyone and everyone near our pew is eligible for handshakes, gigantic grins, and, occasionally, enthusiastic hugs. As it happened, the lady and gentleman seated next to us had offered our cheerful Beanie a warm, albeit silent, greeting when they joined us in the pew, and she had clearly been waiting for the moment when she could return the favor with all the love in her five-year-old heart. The gentleman was somewhat surprised when Beanie hurled herself at his legs and graced him with her warmest embrace, but quickly recovered, and, with a kindhearted laugh, hugged her back gently.
I started to apologize for the force of her greeting, but both husband and wife chuckled and waved me off. Beanie resumed her spot next to me, and she followed the rest of the Mass with her face aglow from the love she’d given and received.
Today’s prayer: Lord, thank You for Beanie, who reminds me what love without reservations looks like. Please help me nurture her loving heart and grant me wisdom so, while I am teaching her about safety, purity, and the right of bodily integrity, I do not squash this precious gift of boundless love with which You have favored her. Please pour Your grace into our hearts as we teach her that sometimes physical contact, however well-intended, is not the best way to express our love for our neighbors, but that we should still love exuberantly and wholeheartedly, as You love us.