Thank Heaven for Angels and Cry Rooms

9 Jun

Matthew sub-deaconed Sunday morning at church (you know, the church that is an hour and fifteen minutes away), which meant that we needed to leave slightly earlier.  By the grace of God we did it with time to spare.  Unfortunately, the ride went less than perfectly. Adeline, who usually falls asleep within the first fifteen minutes of the ride, refused to sleep at all.  Not  the British narrator on our audio book, nor silence, nor death metal would put that girl to sleep.  As a matter of fact, she did this new squealy,going-to-drive-Mama-to -jump-out -of -the-car-while -it’s-moving scream the whole way up. 

Matthew sub-deaconing also meant that I was alone in parenting for the service.  Great.  An over-tired, pained, squealing child.  No sweat, right?  The first hymn, Holy, Holy, Holy, began – it’s my absolute favorite and was played at our wedding.  She behaved and allowed me a moment to worship. As a matter of fact, she lasted until the first reading (which, for anyone who doesn’t know Anglo-Catholic liturgy, isn’t very long).

Into the cry room we went.  Adeline pounded on the glass door during the sermon, ignoring my rebukes. She climbed on the kneeler and hit her cup against it.  She tried to pull down the confession stole (the cry room is also the confessional – many days I feel like I could use it as the former and then need it for the latter shortly thereafter!).

Finally, I reigned the girl in, held her like an infant, turned off the light, threw a blanket over her and rocked her to sleep.  Let me tell you friends, this is the first time she’s slept in public in months. I was in heaven.

I didn’t dare stand or kneel while Adeline slept, but sat in the rocker and worshipped from a spot that I occupy most every Sunday. And I beheld as sight that I behold almost every Sunday.  In the back cry room/confessional there is a stained glass window with an angel.  When the light shines through, it reflects in the glass that separates distraught children (and moms) from the rest of the congregation, and it looks as though there is an angel hovering over the altar.  Most Sundays I think to myself, “How beautiful!” but this Sunday it all hit a little differently.

I wondered if the designer of the cry-room knew how much the reflection of that angel was needed to mothers with fussy babies and squealing toddlers. Some of you with little ones know how desperate a feeling it is to have your child shriek during solemn prayer and then banished to the cry-room you are.  Yet that image of the angel is calming and a good reminder of what all of the beautiful images around a parish are supposed to mean for us.

These images are not just about beauty, though they are beautiful, but a physical reminder of those saints that have gone before us and petition God on our behalf, biblical figures who we learn lessons from in the God-breathed Scriptures, and angels.  Angels that are given charge over us, that do spiritual battle for us, that give peace to frustrated mamas, rocking their grumpy little babies to sleep.

I pray that the next time you are in a church (which I do hope is by next Sunday), that you will take a moment and look at the images in your parish.  What are they teaching you, reminding you, bringing you? Perhaps you’ll find treasured lessons in images you’ve seen time and again.

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One Response to “Thank Heaven for Angels and Cry Rooms”

  1. Ashley June 11, 2009 at 3:31 pm #

    Thank you so much for this!!! Just when I start to think I really am insane for refusing to send my own wriggling mass to the nursery during services, you’re there to remind me that it really IS worth it, and the Spirit DOES give us little moments to ourselves for worship, however brief. Thank you.

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