Category Archives: Loving Children

Young Teacher

 

Young Teacher

 

Eager laundry helper, our godson.

Placing clothes in washer, adding soap, pulling the knob.

Then the dryer!

Cleaning lint trap, adding clothes, pushing start.

 

He’s five.

Our hope is for his never-waning enthusiasm in mundane chores.

Lately his added desire

Has been not only cleaning the screen

But saving the lint for an art project!

How could anyone ignore such a request?

 

Last week we made three linten bowls –

Or Lenten bowls –

With glue, paint, plastic-wrap covered containers and our salvaged goods.

A time-consuming project

With my silent, concluding response:

I’m glad this is done.

 

But, as is often the case with wise teachers and art,

The bowl is not done with me.

 

Flecks of fibers that clog the dryer

Or are tossed into the trash,

Are they not like some people we encounter –

Friends or acquaintances, strangers or co-workers

Who impede our goals or desires?

Are there not some of God’s beloved who we treat as expendable?

As less than?

As suited for the garbage?

 

Holy One, thank you for a little boy

Who can see wonder

In something that I would discard.

Thank you for his unabashed engagement in life.

 

Shake me from busyness and preconceived notions

That I might be awestruck by beauty

Even and especially in unexpected places.

 

©November 18, 2017 Cynthia Langston Kirk

 

 

 

 

 

Stop

Stop

 

Stop responding with an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth

For soon this nation will be blind and unable to eat.

Quit assessing strangers solely as danger

Instead of future friends.

Stop judging men with dark skin exclusively as threats

Instead of God’s beloved.

Resist inhaling fear and exhaling anger

Instead of marveling with reverence at creation.

Avoid the notion that people are terrorists

Simply because their religious beliefs and practices

Are different from yours.

Relinquish the opinion that anyone ever deserves a bullet

Because they do not fit your theology, philosophy

Or what is known and comfortable to you.

Cease making loaded weapons accessible

To children and hotheads

For tragedy often follows.

Stop allowing individuals with violent track records

Or mental instability

Possession of Uzis, glocks and the like

For tragedy often follows.

Release the perception that a gun under pillow

Equals safety

Ignoring the multitude of family members

Who have accidentally been shot by a loved one.

Do not encourage weapons as play

Then be surprised when someone’s game of life is over.

 

Must our citizens don some shade of orange wherever they go

Wearing the established message of hunters,

“I’m here. Don’t shoot me”?

Will we continue to wring our hands,

Fall on our knees in prayer

With each new story of death by gun?

Or will we acknowledge the death toll far too massive,

Resolving to vote, converse, march, write,

Preach, advocate, educate and

Participate in any peaceful measure to

Stop gun violence?

 

©February 23, 2016  Rev. Cynthia Langston Kirk,

Gun Violence Survivor

To use this or any writing by Cynthia Langston Kirk, please include the copyright and Rev. Cynthia Langston Kirk’s full name in your bulletin and/or screen. If you want to use the writing in any other way than one-time worship or one-time retreat/small group, please contact Cynthia at calkirk@aol.com.

Blue-Eyed Celebrant

(at least a beginning about the) Blue-Eyed Celebrant

I know a blue-eyed boy who lives a communion life. He’s a growing two-year-old who moves full speed from breakfast to snack to discovery to lunch to a tumble to snack to snack to peals of laughter to adventure and so on.

Always, he shares any food set before him. This boy will hold out the first grape of the bunch on his plate and say, “Want a grape?” It is asked in question form, but it isn’t really an inquiry. He is offering family or friend the first and best of what he has. He is offering relationship in one of the ways most natural to him. It never occurs to him that being in relationship is an option.

If he has a cracker, the blonde will break it into, cock his head to the side and ask, “Want cracker?” And whether hungry or not, the recipient will take the bread broken for them, give thanks for the grace of God and for the transforming love of a boy who lives communion.

©August 19, 2014  Cynthia Langston Kirk

Teach Us to Pray

Teach Us to Pray

 

Sometimes people believe they must teach children about all manners of the Holy –

Names for God, when to dance divine praise, how to pray and the likes.

Yes, there are concepts to teach and opportunities in which to invite,

But there is much to learn about spiritual matters from the young,

Even those we do not completely understand.

 

His language not completely his own invention

Hatful of words are as clear as a pane untouched by his adventurous hands:

Mama, Daddy, no, yah – verbal skills in process.

We wait … and listen,

Eager to understand this mono dimple-cheeked boy.

Phrases repeated oft in chant-like fashion

Sounding like a foreign, incomprehensible tongue,

But he knows, yet remains somehow unperturbed by us

And our slow-to-understand ears.

Vocabulary sprouts daily

Words linked for phrases, expanded to stories.

His joys are simple:

Strawberries, being chased, filling every room with laughter, his sister,

Family gathered ‘round the table to eat,

Loved ones holding hands before table grace,

Praying…. and praying …. and praying again.

Before-the-meal prayer offered by an older person,

But when the Spirit moves him

He cues diners to clasp hands again.

His face morphs to instant serene; his non-stop body holds still;

Only his lips move with hardly an audible sound projected.

He prays and those gathered are caught up, taught, inspired.

He prays for God-only-knows what –

Berries? World peace? People who love him? The child who bit him?

When he is finished – for the moment –

He concludes with his version of Amen and a delighted-with-the-world smile.

He prays and with less than two years on his life calendar

Does what many with theological degrees long to do

He leads people to God.

 

©Father’s Day (June 14) 2014 Cynthia Langston Kirk

 

 

I Know Two Little Girls

I know two little girls. Sisters.Twins.They are chatty, energetic, 21-month olds whose parents are smitten by them. Their parents are intentional about all aspects of parenting: reading, networking, always seeking to nurture and provide for the girls in the most meaningful ways. This includes everything from good nutrition to being examples of involved citizens who care deeply for the world and people around them.

I had the great, good privilege of helping care for the girls one day a week much of the first year of their lives. And, if you knew me, you’d know that after I have held a baby that much, I could not love them more. If ever there was an emergency in the middle of the night and grandparents could not be reached, their girls’ parents know that I’d get to their house as quickly as I could.

Not many families have twins, but in many ways this family has similar concerns and interests as any young couple. Both parents work outside the home.  Play, dinner, reading, baths and abundant laughter comprise much of the weeknight rituals and weekends are filled with parks, grocery shopping, zoo, friends, much more laughter and such. Like many of us, they know the stress of investing in a home; the grief of mourning a beloved dog and the joy of celebrating a brother and sister-in-law’s wedding and new daughter.

But unlike me and many of you, their marriage – their loving commitment to each other – is not recognized in every state, including our state of Arizona. Both of these mothers and these two darling girls deserve to all be legally connected to each as they continue being a beautiful family together.  Imagine for a moment what it would be like- all the ramifications- if you were not legally connected to your child.

As a Christian pastor, I believe in the sacred worth of each person. I believe Jesus’ ministry was one of blessing, tearing down walls and turning those considered by some as “outcasts” into friends. And I believe that when two adults want to pledge themselves to each other in a loving, committed marriage, they should be allowed.

May love prevail.

©March 14, 2014   Cynthia Langston Kirk

The Blessing of Children

 

photo (16)

This past Sunday, the first Sunday of Lent, the K – 2nd grade Sunday school children immersed themselves in the story of Jesus blessing the children and his admonishing the disciples (and others) not to distance children from him and spiritual growth. After considerable discussion, I told them that I was going to anoint their heads with oil and bless them. They got to choose between almond oil and grapefruit oil. Most chose grapefruit.

I made the sign of the cross on each head and said something like, “_______________ (each name), you are blessed by God’s love to be a blessing for others”. When the last child had had hands laid on him, I asked Neill to anoint my head with oil and bless me. Immediately, each of the children exclaimed her or his desire to bless me. One by one they stood before me with oil on a finger and made the sign of the cross on my head (without any prompting or instruction by me) and repeated the phrases I spoke.

Think about that for a minute – all those little hearts and fingers blessing me. Describing it as powerful and transformative does not do it justice.

“There’s nothing magical about the oil,” I told the children, “but we need to be reminded of God’s love for us and how we are to love others as often as possible. The oil is a reminder.” One first grader inquired, “Should we put oil on our heads every hour?” “That’s a very good question, I replied. (Which one of you readers could not use a reminder every hour or so?) Closing my eyes and putting my hand on my forehead, I said, “Any time we want we can just hold our forehead, remember the oil, and think God’s love for us and how we are called to love others. I opened my eyes and every child had their eyes closed and a hand on their forehead…. remembering.

 

Swept Up

Swept Up

 

We watched the black dot dip and circle –

A hawk! She knew.

Closer the feathered majestic flew.

Closer, closer,

Until overhead, its prowess magnified

Against the cloudless, blue autumn sky.

Girl of five (almost six) stepped onto the sitting wall

Nearer her friend.

She raised her arms and gently flapped,

Up … and … down, up… and… down

At one with nature.

Teach us, wise one,

Show us the way

To be swept up,

To be as one.

©October 11, 2013   Cynthia Langston Kirk

Baby Blessing Song

This blessing song was written for two sets of twins born to friends of ours within a month of each other. You can change the plurals to singular, if singing to just one baby or child. 🙂

Babies’ Blessing Song

Can be sung to tune of “Braham’s Lullaby”

 

 You are love, you are joy

You are grace overflowing

 Full of goodness, full of charm

Precious miracles you are

 Drink in love, drink in joy

Grow in wisdom and grace

 Drink in love, drink in joy

Grow in wisdom and grace

   ©March 2012 Cynthia Langston Kirk

Year-Long Celebration Update

AMAZING! It’s been a week and a day since I turned 60 and this is what has been donated, made, given, or promised thus far: Menkes Foundation – $60.00 from the Raglands, $60.00 from the Nichols; Cystic Fibrosis – $60.00 from the Jones; 3 blankets from Jen and J.C., a darling cotton blanket – perfect for Arizona – made by Linda, a magnificent hand-woven blanket made by Barb, and the promise of 4 crocheted blankets from four different friends. Several other big-hearted friends have said that they will be involved in some way.

I attended a cousins’ reunion this past week and one cousin told this memory. A teacher gave each of the children in her elementary class a shell, a rare and exquisite object for central Texas. Each child then incorporated his or her shell which was about the size of a silver dollar into an art project. My cousin Nancy tripped and landed on her art project on the way home reducing her to uncustomary tears. She went straight to the drugstore that her father owned and, between sobs, relayed what had transpired. Her dad, my mother’s first cousin, asked her to take him to the place where the accident had happened. When they arrived, that big, busy man knelt down and picked up every fragment he could find and took them back to the drugstore where he painstakingly tried to glue that shell back together again.

What a beautiful image of a father’s love! And what a fitting image for all that seeks to overwhelm us. People are redeemed, relationships mended, cures discovered one fragment at a time. One check for $60.00 or one blanket may seem a drop in the bucket compared to the need, but it is each check, each diaper, each blanket, each act of generosity that brings hope and healing.

Gratefully,

Cynthia