Our location bounced around for awhile -- to a Sunday School room at a local church, to the school playground during fine weather, and finally to the school library at times when the weather grew colder. The school library has been a great space for us, for our growing group of fifteen to twenty children. With the school scheduled for reconstruction next fall, I have been anticipating a loss of space when our community shifts to an interim building.
Knowing this will happen, this summer I resolved to continue the group for one final year. I purchased a couple of books which outlined a new curriculum and prepared to make arrangements to schedule the next series of club dates.
But then August proved stressful and full of travel and family activities, and as we flew back into town the day before Labor Day, I felt like we hit the ground running. I didn’t have the mental space to focus on organizing the materials for the club.
So I let a few weeks in September pass, figuring others were likely in a similar state of mind.
One mom reached out to me and asked me when we were starting up, let me know which afternoons worked well for her. I thanked her for her interest and said I would be in touch soon.
But then I turned the calendar page to October, and began to march through the month. I picked my children up from the bus stop and watched them crumble to the floor from fatigue as soon as we returned home.
I began to realize that I was dragging my feet with no hope of starting the club. I felt badly about dropping the ball.
And then I started to look at the issue in a different way.
I thought about our original goals when forming the club -- to create a space where our kids could see that other kids at school also attended church, a space where it was okay to talk about God and Jesus, even in public, a space that reinforced our wishes for our kids to know and love God and each other. I wanted my kids to have that foundation.
I don’t want to rest on our laurels for too long, but I realized that I think we achieved many of my goals. My kids do have a foundation for faith. When they learn about the Big Bang in school, they come home with questions and we talk about how to make sense of science and faith. When they hear about non-Christian holidays, they ask questions about other faiths and how they differ from our own. They have started to notice whether kids they know go to church or synagogue or mosque or practice no faith. And our own church’s Sunday School curriculum and extra family events have become staples in their lives.
There is a quote one of my pastors has used over the years -- advice for parents and adults in general when approaching their spiritual life -- and that is this:
To be spiritual in natural things and natural in spiritual things.
It means integrating the spiritual and natural parts of your life so that they are seamless and flowing in and out of each other. It means you can pray several times a day, listen to praise songs whenever you feel like it, mention this week’s memory verse as it is applicable, and look for God working in our lives. We don’t have to place these things in a container that we call our after school club or Sunday School or Sunday worship service necessarily. For sure, these containers aid our understanding and provide community.
But God also allows us rest. In fact, he commands it.
I felt it was time for this after school club to rest for awhile. I made a hard choice. How often do we say no to something?
I decided to press pause.
And interestingly, since I did, I have thought of the children and families in our group even more. I have remembered to pray for them more often than before. I have reached out to see if I can help in any other way with their religious education, such as making sure families have children’s Bibles in their homes.
And I pray that we have the tools to continue to pray for each other, and to gather as we are able in the future, as Paul wrote in Hebrews 13:20-21:
“Now may the God of peace...equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
Here you will find a catalog of my writing and reflections.