I recently saw an old episode from the Andy Griffith show that resonated with me. You might remember the one where Opie accidentally shoots a mother bird with his sling shot then has to raise her three babies himself. When it’s time to let “Winkin’, Blinkin’ and Nod” fly the nest, he is understandably sad. His father, Andy, looks up and notes, “But don’t the trees look nice and full!”
My husband, Burgess, and I have recently experienced one of those pivotal moments when our youngest son, Kyle, graduated from college and moved out to begin his first full time job. The term “empty nesters” officially applies to us now, and like Opie, I was feeling a little bereft. His move to San Antonio preceded the beginning of Sunday School at St. Dunstan’s by one week. (Why does everything seem to happen at the same time?) After getting Kyle set up in his new apartment, I was immediately back to work getting the Sunday School classrooms cleaned up and ready to receive our children for the first time since the Covid19 Pandemic shut down. With check list in hand, I marched through the empty Bentley Education Center (BEC) intent on making sure no detail went unnoticed.
On the first morning of Sunday School, however, my heart suddenly felt much lighter. Even though I was still feeling the loss of our son in our home, my heart was overflowing with the thought, “But don’t the classrooms look nice and full!” There were teachers sitting on beautiful round carpets teaching children about the Circle of the Church Year. Eager children were intently focused on what they were seeing and hearing about the colors and symbolism of our church year. Peeking in the Level 3 Classroom, I saw Burgess wearing a fedora hat in his role as biblical archeologist “Dr. Jones” and teaching his class about the baby Moses. Our toddlers were happily munching Goldfish crackers while learning for the very first time about God’s Good Creation (Genesis). The new parent Coffee Lounge was full to overflowing with moms and dads eager to speak to each other face to face after such a long dry spell. Everywhere I looked I saw little miracles that hadn’t been seen in the BEC for much too long, and it was almost as if the space were coming to life again! Much like a bulb lying dormant under the soil, this new green growth was exploding to the surface with new life and purpose.
All these little miracles could not have happened without the generous outpouring of love and sprinkling of care provided by our generous congregation. When the call went out in August for donations to equip our new Godly Play workshops, our parishioners picked up the phone! The little lambs I had placed on the tree in the Nave were symbols of individual Godly Play lessons for our workshops. The lambs were quickly adopted and exchanged for funds that have allowed me to purchase many beautiful handmade lessons and materials. I am so grateful for this overwhelming generosity from our congregation because I know it means that they put our children first and want to give them a firm foundation. These tangible lessons bring the bible to life and combined with loving and caring teachers, are the mixture God is using to bring His word to our children. Even though I feel the change of seasons in my own home and our calendar says we are about to enter Fall, it feels to me like it’s Spring again in the BEC at St. Dunstan’s!