One of Sophie’s newest tricks is sitting in your lap with her little green children’s bible from her dedication day at Willow and opening up to the section where Jesus teaches the Lord’s Prayer. She then fold her hand and waits expectantly for you to read about praying.
Tonight, I made her repeat after me, phrase by phrase—abandoning the simple children’s version of the text and making her recite the Catholic one I grew up with (think ‘trespass’ instead of ‘sin,’ ‘thy’ instead of ‘your’ and so forth). Adorably and amazingly accurately, she aped nearly every last word. About halfway through, Cohen joined in. He then wanted to do it all by himself. Sitting on the couch, with Soph in my lap, Cohen next to us asking to pray and liz on the sofa next to me I considered that if you have to learn a rote prayer, I figure the one Jesus taught is a pretty good one, so I had him repeat after me phrase by phrase. He was excited to do it and very good at it, but clearly only understood a few of the words.
He exclaimed that I was his father, and I explained the broader context of the word. He heard who art in heaven and exclaimed that Toby was in heaven, then he remembered papa joe, papa bud and grandma Annabel. We finished the prayer, with much of it flying over his head while he earnestly folded his hands and repeated the sounds.
After words, he said he wanted to pray again. “this time,” he informed us, “I want to pray for the people in heaven.” We consented that this was a good idea and he began.
“Dear Toby, please come back.” Liz and I flashed cute/sad faces at each other as he continued, “dear papa joe and papa bud and Annabel, please come back. Amen. When they coming back dada.”
After a pregnant pause, I summarized and simplified that the bible teaches about a resurrection. I tried to explain that it could be a long time from now, but the bible says that some day Jesus is coming back. This news was greeted with an audible gasp of anticipation, a smile and then an almost clapping motion as I continued that everyone who has ever died will come back and we can all be together. He then yelled out excitement. I explained that it will be a giant party when we see all the people who had gone to heaven. “And,” I added “the best part is that the bible says we don’t have to go to heaven that heaven will come here and earth will be heaven.”
Keep in mind, I’m on again off again reading N.T. Wright’s Surprised By Hope and have never honestly cared for eschatology and I, with a religion degree, have only a loose grasp of what all of this means. Cohen, though, gets it. He was clapping and laughing and saying things like “yay! We get to be in heaven. And papa is there and you are there and <pointing to sophie> you get to be in heaven and toby is there…” He was so excited he started jumping around the couch. Sophie was so excited by his excitement she got up and started jumping around on the couch.
It is moments of grace such as these that I am certain the spirit moves in ways that mean different things to different people. As Cohen celebrated the good news of a resurrection, I kept back tears from the joy of knowing that my 3 year old son just opened a window into the sky and let me peer through.