The Sweet Honey in the Rock setting of that quote above has been running through my head since a wonderful morning at church. We dressed Caroline in an absolutely lovely spring dress that arrived in the mail this week from the parents of Kevin's best friend from high school. I was so moved to receive this gift as these are not people with whom we maintain direct contact and yet... like so many like them... they showered us with generosity in this season of joy. Caroline does not belong to Kevin and I alone. She belongs to so many.
Before church one of the other young moms in the congregation asked if she could hold her, and indeed she could and did. So many commented on her beauty and growth. She belongs to so many.
We decided that we would try nursery care for the first time this week as the choir (that Kev directs and in which I sing) was singing, shortly after the nursery care provider, Lauren, takes little ones out of worship. I consulted with the nursery care provider before church, warning her that we were waiting on (sorry, Jack!) a BIG poop and walking her through the content of our diaper bag. Lauren was THRILLED we were planning to relinquish Caroline to her and READY for the task. I assured her that if she cried for more than 10 minutes she could and should come and get us, and that if the diaper was overwhelming, again... come get us. She said, "Fine." She was just so glad to have ANY time with her at all.
I fed Caroline shortly before the children's sermon (after which folks exit) and she fell into a peaceful sleep. Kev handed our sleeping beauty to Lauren. And off they went. And we worshipped peacefully the rest of the hour (and I even managed to finish a knitting project!) When Kev went to pick her up he got a handwritten nursery report on how she had done for the morning. She did GREAT! She spent most of the time cuddling with the Lauren's elementary aged assistant, Jessica. She didn't dirty her diaper at all though she was gassy- no surprise there. She was an utter delight. This wasn't on the hand written report, but apparently they blew bubbles (because the two year old son of the mom who held her earlier) loves them. And these were her first bubbles. She was fascinated, trying to figure out what to do with her hands, watching as Teddy, the little boy caught and squeezed the bubbles. Apparently she only fussed for a few minutes and was fine once the person holding her got up and moving. It felt so good to know that she responds well to the care of others, even the care of strangers! She does not belong to us alone; she belongs to so many.
I fed and changed her before the second service with congregation number two. I left her with Kevin at the beginning of the praise and worship time so that I could relieve myself and when I came back she was in the arms of a young girl and was totally content. She was looking up at this little girl (I want to remember her name- Cekira) with her big and curious eyes. And then a little later she was in the arms of a little boy. Both of these children held her with such confidence and shifted her around when she would start to fuss, instinctively, it seemed, knowing how to calm a young baby. And Kevin and I were able to sing our hearts out and really prepare for worship. It was marvelous. During all the praise and worship time she moved between about 5 people sitting near us, children and adults. And stayed quite content through it all. One of the things we noticed in our earliest worship experiences with this congregation was the way in which the whole community cares for all the children. Children in this church rarely sit with their parents. In fact, I'm still trying to figure out to whom some children belong. But this was the first week that I began to experience Caroline being fully woven into this web of care. And it was spectacular. She does not belong to us alone; she belongs to so many.
"Your children are not your children..." not at all. Thanks be to God.