A week from today, you will officially start Kindergarten. s c h o o l. School with a bus and big kids and little kids and lunch time and recess and raise your hand if you hafta go to the potty. School.
You, Child, you will love school. You will love all the people and the routine and the jobs and the walking in lines to new exciting places like music! and gym! and art! I’m a little jealous. It’s been a long time since I went to art wearing my dad’s old t-shirt.
I wanted to steal a second to talk to you… about talking. Rylie Girl, you were born thinking differently. And, God bless you, you were born SAYING things differently. I pray this works to your advantage. You’re headed to the Big Time now and I won’t be there to interpret for you or speak up for you or prompt you… not like now. So, I want you to start off on firm ground. And that has less to do with speech and everything to do with heart.
See, me and you- we’re fighters. We have strong opinions and we are actually really decent at getting a point across. I see this in you already, even at 5 years old, even without a voice. Folks like you and me… well, we need to be careful.
Time was, you could hear something, not understand it or not agree with it, wait until the person was finished talking, and then say your piece. This is rarely tolerated anymore… not among strangers, and truly- be careful with close friends. The art, the joy, the discipline of debate and safe discussion is quickly being shelved. Where you could once spend your life thinking out loud, learning, asking questions, and growing you must now pick a side and run to that wall without being caught or face the consequences of isolation.
*sigh* Like you don’t have enough to worry about already.
There’s a beautiful concept in the Jewish culture that is literally as old as the sea. Men would (and still do) spend hours and days, weeks and years debating and dreaming passionately over Scripture. Interpreting. Teaching. Picking apart words. Counting syllables. Laying down, as it were, the Law of the land. Conversations regularly ended with no resolution to either argument. And they were (are) pleased by this.
These wise men… they did not agree on everything. Sometimes, reading their commentaries, I wonder if they agreed on anything. But here’s the kicker: after arguing for hours every day, they would pack it all up and eat dinner together. They believe (and I agree) that you can debate with heart and still break bread together at the end of the day. When hearts are on the same page, relationships are more important than resolutions.
Here is what I say to you:
I know, it’s kindergarten. You won’t be debating government policy or church theology in kindergarten. I know. But, here is where your table begins to fill up with people other than your family. Here, you will meet people who think and speak and act differently than you, if ever so slightly. They will pick different colors, go on different vacations, worship at different churches, pack different lunches, ride home in different cars, and dance to different music. It starts here.
I pray you will meet others… even in Kindergarten… who will join you at your table. People who are of the same heart but all different shades of mind. Disagree. Debate. Yell, laugh, cry, and share- passionately. But do not let it go so far that you cannot return to the table in the evening together. Be prepared, if not eager, to share a supper when it is all finished. Hold that concept close to you in everything, for it is the level ground beneath your church.
Take your seat. Save me one next to you. And, at the end of the day, may your table be full.
I love you.