The room is different with her walking in beside me. I selfishly enjoy her restraint as she holds my hand tighter and walks nearer.
It takes her cautiousness for me to look closely at the room that suddenly has become larger and intimidating.
We find our row and tuck our coffee cups behind the chair legs in front of us, away from toddler feet, destined to kick, empty, and draw attention.
She shifts from quietly onlooking, to fast, loud questioning.
“Why are they singing so loud Mom?”
“Why is there a cross hanging there, is someone gonna go on it Mom?”
“The lights are bright.”
“Those T.V’s are so big Mom.”
“Are they sad Mom?”
“Mom what they doing, Mom?”
I know her cues of nervousness; incessant use of my name and repeated questions.
Ears inclined to the stage, I glance over at her sweet face when words of death, beaten, thorns are sung with next to perfect harmony.
With instructions to stand she doesn’t hesitate and I sweep my three year old into my arms. Her weight giving me silent permission to sway and move my body the way my spirit already has been.
The mental fight between emotionalism and rationality begins as I start testing why my eyes instinctively water and arms feel wrong hung lifeless by my side, instead of stretched in surrender. I wrestle with being labelled simply as the fragile, dramatic Mom that becomes unhinged with the gentle strum of acoustics.
The intentional theatre lighting, offers safety in its darkness, allowing me to swing heavily towards emotions of love, heartache, and hope. A full auditorium and the only eyes I feel on me are the ones that inherited their colour from me.
Debt is paid
I respond in ways that I watched my own parent respond and feel my eyeballs burn and arms grow heavy from being raised over my head. I give myself the three minutes to feel without doubt, and worship with abandon.
Its one of the few services a year she sits in with us instead of in the age appropriate classroom. The lights come up and teaching begins, not more than two minutes before the innocent fidgeting. I reach for my bag and start with a muffin, which smells much stronger than what I remember when I packed it. Napkin over her small knees, she quietly chews and sips on water.
“I’m done,” and no sooner do I grab the Noah’s ark and rainbow lace-up cards. As she weaves the green shoe lace over and under the hole punched cloud, the questions and observations continue. I close my eyes and kiss her washed hair and offer all the comfort, security, and love I remember experiencing on my own Mother’s lap in another, much smaller sanctuary, almost 30 years ago.
I have sat through more services, that are situated around and highlight the cross, than I can remember. Each one playing their part in bringing my heart to what it is today. It takes her body in my lap for me to know the role this one is playing in shaping hers. This day most typically surrounding my failures and the responding forgiveness given, was now shifting.
With a heart rate that climbs when I watch my children learn to run or splash in the shallow end, It shouldn’t surprise me that fear creeps in and rears its ugly head as I worry what understanding is being formed in her mind.
Where it was always my face I’d picture at the foot of the wooden beams, I see another, much smaller one also resembling me. The cross feels heavier with my children now contributing to its weight. I’m hit with the desperation to pray as I realize this hour matters.
Urgency and fear for my first born are met with the promise of love, hope and redemption. Acknowledging my desperate need for this Good Friday, always brought a thankfulness that kept my head bowed in reverence, which has now left me laying completely faced down.
I know the service is coming to a close as we start hitting the wall of restlessness an hour usually brings. The bread and red liquid are centre stage.
With some hesitation, I offer my daughter the decision to participate. Needing navigation and explanation she eagerly fumbles with the flap and cups the elements in her palm. Wafer chewed and drink swallowed. She forgets to lower her voice and looks at me with all sincerity. She leaves just enough of a questioning pitch that I’m unsure if she is asking or telling me, “We drink that because Jesus loves us Mom?”
I’m tired and it all feels like a lot. Unsure if I should ramble and fumble hoping something resonates, I ultimately decide on fewer words in hope it brings less confusion and nod my head yes with a reassuring smile.
Where I have always stumbled alone towards confession,
this Good Friday I hold the hand of my own flesh and lead her also towards it. I’m not the first woman at the cross with her child and I won’t be the last.
With the closing of the service and shuffle of bodies I tell my daughter, “Yes, we drink because he loves us.”