They’re out there. Circling about like vultures, trying not to let me see them glance through the window as their mouths water in anticipation. I scoop the last of the freshly baked cookies onto the cooling rack and brace myself. 3…2…1… My six year old bursts through the back door, his love for cookies overtaking his already limited sense of decorum. “Cookies! Can I have one? Can I have two? Can all of my friends have one?” As I watch my afternoon’s work being devoured in two minutes flat, I wish I had the ability to multiply my cookies just as Jesus multiplied the loaves and fish.
My summer days are filled with opportunity. I am constantly surrounded by young hearts that are all hungering for the same thing: the bountiful goodness of God’s gracious love. Not only are my five children on summer break from school, but so are the other 15 or so neighborhood kids who seem to gravitate to our backyard most of the time. Many of our days are filled with laughter, delighted screams, water fights, and epic Nerf gun battles. And while they usually play amicably and safely together, there are also the inevitable arguments, scraped knees, requests for snacks and water, and even the occasional fist fight.
I have to admit that I do enjoy the times they are all playing well together outside while I do some much needed housework, but it is in their times of need that my response can create the ideal play place for them. A place where they are made free by rules that keep them safe; a place where they are respected and taught how to handle disagreements in ways other than using their fists; a place where they know they will be nourished, both body and soul.
While our primary responsibility for guiding souls to heaven lies with our own children, we are also called to touch the hearts of others in a way that will lead them closer to our Lord. Our children’s peers give us the opportunity to play a part in saving souls that are still in the tender years of formation. We are not to take the place of their own parents’ guidance, of course, but while they are in our presence, we can be a light for them. Just as Jesus took the few loaves and fish that man could provide and demonstrated God’s generosity in making up for what we lack, so too do our kind gestures reveal some knowledge of the love for which everyone’s souls hunger. Who knows what floodgates of grace God will open if we but unlock them with a kind word, a bandage, or forgiveness for wrong doing?
It is by building good and trusting relationships with our children’s peers that they will feel comfortable and welcome in our presence. Our children and their friends will trust that we are always looking out for their best interests as they seek the environment of a household where love is freely given in a manner of total self donation–an environment where hearts are faithful to the laws of God as manifested in the fruits of kindness, charity, and generosity.
And so I will continue to feed their hungry little bodies with cookies and nurture their hearts with love. May my children and their friends always feel that by walking through the front door of our home, they are walking into the arms of Christ Himself.
Previously published at Catholic Attachment Parenting Corner–catholicap.com
Copyright 2013 Charisse Tierney