As a kid, there was a song we used to sing in Sunday school that went like this:
“Deep and wide, deep and wide, there’s a fountain flowing deep and wide.” (Repeat.)
What made the song was the hand motions. As the song went faster and faster, dropping another word each time, the frantic hand gestures kept everything on track.
Last week, I ran our church’s VBS — and during that time I got to play four different women saints: Blessed Mother Teresa, St. Rose of Lima, St. Faustina Kowalska, and Blessed Katharine Drexel (whom I told I resemble slightly). Standing at the front of the room, leading the music and thumping the old keyboard, I was in my element. The only catch: a certain seven-year-old, dearly beloved child, who did not want to share me with 100 other kids.
Every five minutes she was at my elbow, begging to be cuddled. “Go sit down, Sarah,” I’d hiss in less-than-motherly tones. “When I’m done here I’ll go with you to your next group, and we’ll have a cuddle.
But no, it had to be NOW. Honestly! With 100 pairs of eyes upon me, I steered my daughter back to her tribe’s blanket and resorted to outright bribery: She could hold Senor Froggie if she sat still. (My thirty-year-old frog puppet had traveled the world with me. I was pretty sure he could stand a little more loving.)
Sarah looked terribly unhappy … but she went, clutching the positive-proof evidence that Mommy loved her best of all the kids in the room. And I went back to my keyboard.
All that week, I thought about how just a couple of weeks before meeting Craig I had sent away for information from a certain religious order. At thirty-three, I had decided that marriage was just not in the cards for me.
But as I said, then I met Craig. And we found Chris and Sarah … and my life’s course changed unalterably. And I think mostly for the better.
Still, after a week of “church ministry” — leaving me short on temper, and long on nagging — I had to wonder. I find it so easy to walk into a room of children — preschoolers are my favorite — and love them. Really enjoy being with them. I feel happy, alive, enthused. Cast those love nets wide, and draw those little hearts close to Jesus.
But at the end of the day, when it’s just them and me — the two little hearts who see me at my best and worst, day in and day out — those love nets get pretty ragged. The “going deep” part is infinitely more challenging. When they whine, and cajol, and bicker, and argue, and sass … Oh, how I long just to lock them outside the toss away the key some days!
But the thing is — and if you’ve ever had days or even whole weeks like this, I think you’ll know what I mean — it’s the “going deep” that cleans out the gutters, and does the actual purificating work. The “loving deep” is what fits us for heaven.
So sing with with me now … “Deep and wide, deep and wide, there’s a fountain flowing deep and wide!”