“I believe in the surprises of the Holy Spirit.” L.J. Suenens
This past Sunday I taught children’s liturgy at St. Thomas Aquinas. Now I usually prepare for my teaching a day or two in advanced, reviewing the gospel and trying to make it understandable and relevant to children. At times I get wrapped up and overwhelmed, trying to cover all the topics in the gospel. This of course freaks me out and I am afraid I won’t be able to remember everything I want to teach. When I first started teaching CLOW (Children’s Liturgy of the Word) I would write everything down and then stand up in front of the kids reading from my paper. Like I said I was afraid I would forget something vital and important. Of course doing this, reading from a paper (staring at the paper and not the kids), is not as affective as just speaking from the heart and interacting with the kids. So I have been trying to remember what I want to say. I do write it up first, then I rewrite it in more of a bulleted form… by then I usually do remember most of it…and I have the skeletal bulleted version with me, but I don’t usually look at it unless I am stuck. So (after years of practice) I have gotten better at teaching the kids.
As I was walking in procession this past Sunday with the altar servers (both my sons were serving), the Lector and the priest the Holy Spirit expressed to me, ‘Do not worry, keep it simple. They are children and you should keep it simple for them. What is the main message of the gospel today? Just teach that. Keep it simple Kelly. And don’t worry I am there with you.’ That made me feel better. Focus on one message Jesus wants the kids to hear. Okay. Cool.
So the gospel this week was John 8:1-11, the story of the woman caught in adultery and the Pharisees trying to catch Jesus and trip him up by asking him what they should do, the law says stone her. Of course I immediately think, “What if the kids ask, ‘What is adultery?’” What will I say? (AAAHHHH!). So I focus on… what Jesus is trying to say to them? Mercy, forgiveness and not judging others. The Our Father states to “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others”… good, we pray the Our Father at the beginning of CLOW I will talk about that. I will talk about how we all make mistakes, we all are sinners in need of forgiveness, and we are all human. We should not cast stones at each other we should be merciful. Nice. All set. I know what I am going to say.
So as I was setting up for CLOW in the church basement before mass I grabbed the CLOW book from the religious education room (I have to pick the right one, year C). I found the reading and put a book mark in it so I won’t be rifling for it when I have to read the gospel. Good, all set. So what happens? Ha! Well the Holy Spirit used all I want to teach in an interesting and clever way. So at the beginning of CLOW, as we were praying our prayers, I mess up the Our Father. Oops. I was thinking about what I was going to teach and not thinking about what I was doing at the moment, praying. Dope. Then I forgot what we say instead of the “Alleluia” (don’t say that during Lent! SSSHHH!)… and then I start to read the wrong gospel to the kids (there was more than one bookmark in the book! hm). How embarrassing! BUT… hey I used it. After reading the gospel I asked, “Who here is perfect? Who has never made a mistake?” … and then I pointed out that I made a mistake when I read the wrong gospel and I messed up the Our Father… Hey I didn’t want to mess that up. I was slightly horrified (not only do kids come down for CLOW but many parents do too… so I do not like to look like an idiot!). Well, the HS knows me, knows I can be scatter-brained at times… so he used that to help me teach the kids. Ha. Hahahahaha. Very clever… very funny. Ugh. Embarrassing, but effective. But still … afterwards, for the rest of mass, I felt slightly idiotic and foolish.
Foolish. Ah. The Holy Spirit … that card, that character… likes to joke around and show me he is working in my life. “See Kelly, show the kids you are not perfect and they will understand.” Okay. Okay… I get it. But I still feel foolish. But then I remembered… I am a Precious Fool. I am a fool for Christ. Let God work in me. Let him make a fool of me to make a great point.
I started reading Murray Bodo’s book Brother Juniper God’s Holy Fool last night. Great little book. These lines spoke to me, “And humor, too, is like that. It is for all those who need to see their own craziness and awkwardness personified. My gift is to play the fool to free people from their need to always be correct in what they do and say. As you used to say Father Francis, ‘If you are not willing to be a fool, you probably will be.’” Okay Lord, I will be your fool. But I still need the humility to accept it. Ugh.
Still learning to laugh at myself.