Give them grace, when they hurt each other, to recognize and acknowledge their fault, and to seek each other’s forgiveness and yours.
Give us grace, Lord, to do what seems impossible. If this beautiful language was written as a goal on an IEP, I would be raising my hand, interrupting the special education team, arguing that this is too much. My children can’t do this. I can’t do this. Not even if 80% accuracy equals mastery.
Perhaps because I’m a dancer and have spent much of my life on the stage, the leap to cosplay doesn’t seem too great a jump. When my eldest daughter, then twelve, began begging me to take her to BronyCon a few years ago, I spent a lot of time on Google before I said yes. But in the end, performing arts, cosplay conventions, and liturgical churches all seem to have similar elements to me: dressing up, costuming to step into another character or role, and yards and yards of fabulous fabrics. So I signed us both up.
What I found at my first BronyCon was a space where everyone, even the quirky or the socially awkward or those with special needs, could fit in and be welcomed.
Sometimes I think God was communicating everything I needed to know about my son right there in the delivery room. I don’t often ascribe these types of messages to the Divine—that’s not how I’ve ever experienced my faith—but if that was how I experience my faith, I would say God was speaking to me then. I would say God was telling me: I will give you what you need to raise this child. I will break you—literally!—but I will give you what you need.
This baby was going to be different. He was going to do things his own way. And raising him might break me, but God had a plan. God was breaking me, getting me ready, years before my son was even born.
I see how these amazing women and men are in there, day in and day out, giving their all—not only for my kids, but for entire classrooms. And I know (firsthand!) how some of those kids can try their patience ceaselessly and probably make them wish they’d chosen any career other than teaching. Yet they don’t give up. They greet the kids with a smile each and every morning, and calmly say things like “How could we make a different choice here?” as my kid is trying to bite their ankle or whatever.
“I had such a lovely time with your children,” my friend said. “Truly lovely. We had a wonderful conversation over dinner.”
This surprised me. Some of my children have special needs, and all of my children are pretty quirky. Being good dinner conversationalists isn’t something I usually hear about them.
“That’s amazing,” I said. “Usually dinnertime in our house is a melee of children running around half-dressed and climbing on the table.”
My friend thought for a minute. “Well, I suppose that happened, too,” she said. “But we talked about so many interesting things while they were eating and climbing around! I really had fun.”
My daughter’s eyes are wide as she enters the sanctuary. This place, so familiar to her, is incongruent at night in its somber hush. With the exception of a tiny baby wrapped securely on his mother’s back in a sling, she is the youngest person here. We slide into our pew, and the service begins.
She watches the proceedings with a grave expression, self-consciously determined to be solemn. Kneeling, her nose barely clears the shelf on which the prayer book rests in front of her, and she clasps her hands in prayer fervently. With the exception of a quick smile during the sermon, when the priest makes an allusion to The Chronicles of Narnia, she is the picture of seriousness. My hands rest over the fluttering kicks in my middle, and I watch her.
Too often, I forget to praise. Surrounded by the scarred remains of what once was Eden, praise seems almost out of place—something frivolous, superfluous. Shouldn’t I be doing more serious things with my time?
And yet. The God who calls me to repent and lament also calls me to praise, to remember the glory of the One whose breath sustains my lungs. In the unlikeliest of places and circumstances, God calls me to remember to praise.
God, we are weary.
We have traveled for many miles, and we still aren’t home.
Your timing is not our timing, Lord; and so often, we wonder where you are.
If my son had been there, in Bethlehem, on the night Jesus was born, he absolutely would have brought a drum to play for the baby. He would have banged on it with all his heart, an earnest little misfit bringing the best gift he could think of in honor of the infant king.