Sunday, February 13, 2011

Charitable Giving

This morning at church Boo decided he would like to help out with the offering. Typically in our church the elders pass the collection plates through the congregation while a soloist sings or plays a song. When they have finished, two elders stand at the back of the santuary till the solo is over, then they and two of the Sunday School children carry the offering plates to the front and give them to Pastor, who then places them on the alter and the elders and children return to their seats. The Sunday School teacher had told me that Boo had expressed his desire to help today. It helped that my dad was one of the elders who was carrying the offering today too. So when they stood at the back of the church, I asked Boo if he still wanted to help.

Before the offering began, Boo had taken one of the communion cards and a small pencil from the pew and was writing on the card. He had told me "I'm writing a test." (This is from his Franklin video, when Franklin and his friends have an important spelling test. Instead of saying they "take" a test, they say they are "writing" a test.) As his Grandpa encouraged him, he sheepishly left the pew and approached Grandpa, the other elder, and Susan (a middle school aged girl from Sunday School, whose name I changed for privacy). As Grandpa prompted Boo to hold one of the collection plates, he was still holding the pencil and the "test" so he simply dropped them into the plate before taking hold of it. Grandpa then explained that Boo was to follow him to the front of the church where they would give the plates to Pastor. I watched this exchange with teary-eyed expectation and joy. Watching my son learning to serve God, even in this small way, touched my heart.

When the solo ended, Grandpa and the others headed up the aisle and Boo trailed behind, making his own pace. About halfway up the sanctuary he took a sudden burst of speed, eliciting quiet giggle from the congregation. Arriving at the front, he watched Susan place her plate in the stack with the others, then he placed his plate in the stack as well. At that's when it all went south. Before he had the change to snatch his precious "pencil and test" back from the plate it was whisked away and he protested as he watched the elder hand it over to Pastor and Pastor carry it to the alter. Grandpa gently turned him back toward the sanctuary and my heart broke as I watched his sweet little face crinkle up with heartbroken tears. He walked dejectedly back to the pew where he fell into my arms and began to sob loudly and inconsolably. "I want my things back! I want them BAAAACK! But I NEEEEEED them!" On and on and on he cried, no matter what I tried to say to comfort him. He would have no part of a new card and a new pencil. He needed THOOOOOSE ones. Everyone was taken aback. The rest of the congregation had not seen what took place at the back of the church and they thought he was demanding the money back from the plates. I was certain that no one could even hear the prayer that Pastor was saying.

I finally took my heartbroken boy out of the sanctuary and out to the foyer to try to calm him down. After he found the words to talk about what had happened he began to settle. By the time he was feeling well enough to return, everyone was leaving. Church was over. We weaved our way back inside like salmon swimming upstream so that we could go back and get out belongings from the pew. Just as we ducked inside the sanctuary, I looked up to see dear sweet Susan approaching with a big smile.......holding out the cherished pencil and test for Boo. He was elated! He was so thankful, and he told me with great surprise "He gave me my sings back!" (Boo always confuses gender pronouns) It was then that some of the people around us came to understand just what he had gotten so upset about. Several different church members praised him on a job well done, exchanging high fives and "knuckles" (fist bumps).

If I had searched high and low, near and far, I don't think I could have found a more perfect church home for me and my Boo. These warm and wonderful friends never miss a chance to put an arm around my shoulder, offer assistance, provide encouragement, celebrate improvement, and just generally make us feel welcome and loved and valued. I haven't even shared the news of his diagnosis except with a couple people. Even so, from day one they seem to have intuited our needs and endeavored to meet them. I love my church. I love my God. I am so thankful that the boy I love is learning to love them too.

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