It just has to be said: my job is legitimately awesome. Sure, it has trying days just like any job, but there are some pretty incredible moments too. For those that don’t know, I work at the parish I grew up at as the Director of Faith Formation. I oversee…a lot of programs, but the bulk of my days are spent working with preschool – 5th grade students and the volunteers who teach religious education classes. I get to see – literally – hundreds of first reconciliations and first communions every year. But beyond the sacramental highs, I get to watch children fall in love with Jesus, families come together and learn, and all the little things that happen along the way. There are so many stories I could tell from my time in this job, but below are a few of my favorites that truly illustrate the beauty and innocence of children – and how we are called to be if we want to know Jesus and enter His Kingdom (see Matthew 19:14).
How do they do that?
One of my favorite things to do with a class (by invitation or because one of my regular volunteers is sick) is to take them on a tour of the church. I get to use my theology degree a bit and I love being in our sanctuary. It is so adorable to hear kids try and say words like “ambry” or “tabernacle” for the first time. They learn something and I get a dose of extra cute-ness. Recently I took one of our first grade classes on a tour and was explaining that we keep the Body of Christ in the tabernacle in the form of bread. With all of the curiosity she could muster, one little girl raised her hand and asked, “How do they get the Body of Jesus to fit into that little piece of bread?” Whether they know it or not, these kids ask some truly profound questions!
What is in your belly?
Being pregnant and being around 470+ kids is an adventure all its own. Last year I got to share the news with them when I got engaged and even invited them to the wedding ceremony. I loved being able to answer their questions about marriage and weddings and the like. Being pregnant this year has only afforded me more opportunities to talk to the children about the miracle of life and God’s plan for each of us. One of the little girls recently came up to me and asked, “What is in your belly?” She could – clearly – tell that my belly didn’t look normal, but wasn’t quite sure what was going on. I told her that I had a baby in my belly and that the baby is a girl. She excitedly asked me, “Really?!” with such wonder and then proceeded to congratulate me about five times in the next five minutes, not to mention that she just wanted to keep rubbing my belly and saying hi to the baby. It was adorable.
The Miscarriage and The Miracle
There are so many stories I could tell, but so far and by far my favorite was of one of our kindergarten students. She came up to me with her mom at the end of the night and asked if there was a baby in my belly. I told her that there was and then she told me about how there was once a baby in her Mommy’s belly, but the baby died. The mom was at a loss for words as her daughter went on. “The baby died and Mommy was really sad, but then God put me in Mommy’s belly and I’m a miracle.” Then the mom looked down at her darling daughter and said, “Yes, sweetie, you are a miracle.” It was, hands down, one of the most touching moments I’ve ever been a part of.
People are so quick to write kids off but time and time again they amaze me with their wit, their innocence and the beautiful way they look at the world. Rather than writing that off as child-like or lacking experience, perhaps we’d do better to imitate them and be found in the tender embrace of Jesus.