This week, as I dropped off one of my children at school, I heard a mom speaking to her son, a terrific little boy in my child's class.
“I will work hard today and make sure that my mouth speaks only kindness,” the mother chanted. He repeated it after her.
She took his chin, stared him in the face, and told him to say it louder and really mean it. Then, she said the next part of the chant, “For I know all things are possible within the love of Christ.”
This is a little brown boy, single brown mother. He is always on the lookout to help and support in the classroom. In fact, I had just mentioned that to his teacher. How kind he is, how ready to interfere for good.
After he went in, I told the mother what I had just told the teacher. (It is a family value we teach to try to tell people good things when we can.)
Then, I headed back into the classroom to give my child another hug. As I went, I admit I felt a bit of envy that I do not have this mother's kind of a faith. I know, in fact, the opposite-- that all things are not possible, no matter who believes in what God. Very bad things can happen to very good people. Anxiety can cripple. Even the most religious can be pushed by depression to commit suicide. Babies can be born with cancer and die within the month. Whole peoples can be wiped out through intensive campaigns, millions within a matter of years.
But I still envied this mother that certainty. I wished to be able to take my own child's chin and say, "Anything is possible with faith in God."
Instead, I said my usual, "Be kind, and make sure to ask good questions."
And then, I hugged my child and gave a kiss on top of the head, did the same to the two best friends in class (I have asked permission long before to do this) Then, I found the affectionate little boy who this year is clearly going through some horrible crises at home. (He is glum, his face so sad this year. He says, "I was up all night last night," and frankly, if a child can fall asleep during morning circle time, you know he is sleepy.)
"Who's my very favorite boy?" I said, and gave him a hug. He put his hand on top of his head, his eyes wide, and said, "Wow. You kissed my head."
"Yup," I said, "You said that I could. And I love you. You know that, right?"
It's the best I can do.