I still remember way back in the day, back in BC (Before Children) I would sometimes get frustrated by little kids at church. They would make noise, cry, and move around a lot and I couldn’t understand how their parents weren’t keeping them quiet. Definitely not proud to admit that, but it’s the truth. I liked church as a time to take a deep breath, enjoy the quiet, and focus on what was being said. The noise didn’t help me enjoy any of those.
Once we had our own kids I suddenly got a crash course in understanding what had happened. Dominic and Gavin would both make noise and fuss a lot during church. Dominic would continue to drop his toys cars off the back of pew. Gavin waited until the entire church was completely silent to holler out an announcement to everyone, “I’ve got to POOP!!!” Both of them had to go to the bathroom at church, a lot! There was asking for snacks, tantrums when they didn’t get their way, and very rarely a quiet moment. Mentally I was already repenting my thoughts from early as I now understood what those parents were going through.
While Becky and I were looking forward to the day when we could actually enjoy church again there were so many other parents who would smile big at the chaos. They would smile as they helped to pick up the toys, snacks, and books that hit the floor. There were many times when they would let us know it was okay, we were doing great, and that they enjoyed seeing the family at church. Each of those smiles and comments helped to us persevere and bring both the boys to church the next week and the next week and the next week. Even though we were worn out and drained from trying to corral the boys their comments and smiles would incite a smile from us and meant the world to us.
Now that our boys are older we’ve been on the other end of the spectrum we do our part to help re-assure the other new parents through smiles (comments have bene exceedingly difficult due to social distancing, no worries though, a smile says more than words ever could). When we hear the sounds we think back to those difficult times. We also realize that the sound isn’t a big deal at all, it’s totally normal and is the sound of the constant renewal of faith. What a beautiful sound it is when I choose the right mindset!
At church this morning there was a family with three very small children. The children were alive and wild with energy – giggles, smiles, playing, and moving. The parents both looked a bit tired and I did my best to pass a couple of heartfelt smiles to them from behind my mask.
At one point it almost seemed as if Father Dodge was struggling to focus on what he was saying. Before mass concluded he called the little daughter (two to three years old at most?) by name to join him up front. It took her a little while to trust him but she finally took his hand and went back to the front of the church with him. What happened next filled my soul and eyes with emotion.
Father Dodge introduced her to the entire church. He then went on to explain that she had had her heart replaced and what a miracle it was that she was still with us today. He said that he loved to hear her voice and made a comment along the lines of, “each time I hear her voice I am reminded of the miracles all around us, her voice is the sound of a miracle.” How awesome is that?
What I am grateful for today was a reminder of the importance of choosing the right mindset. Where some may hear noise others may hear miracles. While I may not know the reasons, the intent, or the back story to others I can always choose an attitude of kindness, love, respect, and gratitude. When I hear “noise” it is a tripwire for me to pause, choose my mindset, and see if the sound changes to something more beautiful.