Tuesday, April 29, 2014


My 2 year old, Ella, sits nestled quietly in my lap. Her golden ringlets are, as usual, a little tangled and sorta wild. But they’re perfect, because they’re hers. My arms are around her, holding her close. We’re sitting on a colorful, preschool decorated rug along with many other moms and caregivers who also hold their little ones on their laps. Together--parent with child--we sing, listen, and read.

The Circle Time transitions from action songs to a children’s story and we quiet down and focus our attention. As we listen to the Storyteller’s voice and look at illustrations on each page, Ella reaches one hand up behind her, almost absentminded it seems, and finds my face. She continues to listen as her tiny hand rubs the side of my face.    

Leaning forward I gently kiss her curls, remembering afresh something obvious and yet easy, in the rush of it all, to forget: life is about relationships.  

Yes, I’m sitting here with my two year old because rhymes, action songs, and finger plays are educational for a 2 year old. Yes, I’m here with her because I want her to learn from other teachers while yet in the safety of my own arms. Yes, music, singing, and literacy are all wonderfully important. And yet there is a reason I’m here that surpasses them all; of deepest importance in my daughter’s life is not the words being read but the arms that hold her close.

Of deepest importance is this: love, relationship, and closeness.   

Isn’t it so often the way? As parents, the time we spend doing activities with our children is almost always less about the activity itself and more about the connection—the relationship—between parent and child.

But when it comes to our relationship with our heavenly Father we so often discard this truth for something more certifiable; we discard the experience of intimacy for merely expressing theological truth alone. 

Theological truths expressed in prayer rouse our hearts and we murmur our affirmation. Yet sometimes, for those of us who belong to certain Christian traditions, we’re so afraid of being mystical or sounding like a mystic, that we’re barely bold enough to use the language God Himself uses in Scripture.

When I pray, do I sense God holding me in His arms?
When I pray, do I reach forward to grasp the hand that He has stretched out to me?
When I pray, do I feel the arms of an everlasting God upholding me?

When I pray, my words are often beautifully biblically sound and doctrinally correct. But am I aware that I am praying to a heavenly Father who is reaching down to hold me and to comfort me with His very own hands? Beyond my correct theology, am I remembering the intimacy and closeness of the God to whom I pray?

When I pray, do I believe that I can reach up and, like my 2 year old daughter, touch His face?

Recently Justin, my pastor and my husband, has been impressing upon me and others in our church how it’s helpful to spend a few moments reflecting on our Father, and our relationship to Him, before we pray to Him. 

Because we don’t want to merely repeat truths about our Father. We want to be held in His arms.

Earlier tonight I talked with my parents for a while on the phone. I’m not exactly sure why it was on my mind, but throughout the day I had been remembering being a little girl and my Dad taking me to this store called Top Banana. It was a bulk foods organic store in Ottawa, where I grew up. My family didn’t call the store Top Banana, though, we called it The Banana Man because the sign was this big, grinning banana dude. To us, he was The Banana Man. And my Dad made it fun to go there. I have few vivid, detailed memories of early childhood. But to this day, I can remember walking into The Banana Man with my Pop. He was a fun, slightly hippy, cool looking Dad with a big smile and dark brown, long ringlets. And he often wore this beige, corduroy blazer. But what I remember most was that he was holding my hand.

I was a little girl, reaching up. And my Dad was holding my hand.