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.
As the last sibling was deposited curbside with the usual barrage of I-love-you, please-tie-your-shoes, don’t-forget-to-turn-in-your-field-trip-form, see-you-soon, my little guy looked at me and asked, “Mommy, is it Fursday?”
“It is Thursday,” I confirmed.
“YES!” he called out, his footie-pajama-clad feet kicking high into the air. “I love Fursday! I can’t wait to get home and rest!”
Suffice it to say, we have kept our Thursday morning sabbath.
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.
“I read the Bible,” Scott Morris recalls, “and I couldn’t help but notice everything in there about healing the sick. It is on every page.” But when he looked at the churches around him through this lens, Scott wasn’t satisfied with what he saw: “We pray for people on Sunday morning, the pastor is expected to visit people in the hospital, a few people visited the shut-ins, and that defined our healing ministry.”
“It’s very easy to just focus on the medical aspect of our work, but what we’re really trying to do is live out the Gospel,” Scott says. He cites Plato’s view of mind/body dualism—the idea that we are separate parts dust and breath—as a “fundamentally non-Christian idea.” Human beings cannot simply be broken down into component parts, with separate entities caring for our health, our faith, our other needs, and have no communication between those caregivers. We are created whole, in God’s image, and should be treated as such.
My childhood copy of Ferdinand was beautiful—the red cover, the flowers, even the lettering. I remember very clearly the way the light and dark shading of the font played together in perfect harmony in the title on the cover.
What I remember most is the picture of Ferdinand sitting, all by himself, under the cork tree. And how the story tells us that “His mother saw that he was not lonesome, and because she was an understanding mother, even though she was a cow, she let him just sit there and be happy.”
When the dishes are done or the sneaker is tied or I’ve spelled “antidisestablishmentarianism” yet again (that can’t really be one of their spelling words, right? Someone is pulling my leg?) I ask her what she wants to tell me. And her firecracker light is even brighter, her all-consuming need to tell me that she made up a new song or renamed her pony or can’t find her Elsa glove is even more important to her than it was two and a half minutes ago, because she had to wait.
Watching their son walk toward the school building on his first day, Auggie’s parents (played by Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson) hold on to each other, emotions writ large on their faces. Then his mother prays: “Dear God, please make them be nice to him.”
I don’t know what it’s like to raise a child with visible disabilities, but I resonate with Auggie’s mother’s prayer. In my world, disabilities are hidden. In my world, children look like they might be able to blend in—but they never can. And so I pray for everyone who interacts with my family: “Dear God, please make them be nice.”
When we finished praying, my eight-year-old blurted out, “Can I eat my card?” I was trying to decide if not eating the prayer card was going to be my hill to die on, when he paused, green card halfway to his open mouth.
“Actually, I don’t want to eat this,” he said. “This is a prayer. This is important. I want to send this to Washington, D.C.”
The film brings viewers right into the middle of Justin and Patrick’s friendship, and the depth of their relationship is apparent. As is their humor: when the camera focuses on Patrick, exhausted and slumped over for a much-needed rest, Patrick then looks at Justin and says, “Okay, seriously dude—it’s time to walk.”
I see you on stage at the school play, or lighting the candles as an acolyte, or twirling through your dance recital and I know what it cost you to get up there and do that, and my heart is bursting for you. In this broken world, I want you to know that I don’t just see your brokenness—I see your beauty. Because we are all broken, we are just broken differently.