Friday, January 14, 2011
On Throwing Paper Airplanes in Church
I should have known something was up when I picked up my Sam from youth choir rehearsal one day last fall, asked him how it went, and he said, "IT WAS AWESOME!"
Not that he doesn't usually enjoy youth choir. He likes it fine, but IT WAS AWESOME! isn't his usual response.
So I wondered what made it so amazing, so different. I knew the choir had rehearsed in the sanctuary for their upcoming musical, not in their regular spot in the choir room, but surely that wasn't it.
Sam sits in this sanctuary just about every week,
often with the same enthusiasm he demonstrates when I make him put away his clean underwear and socks.
So on the drive home, Sam told me the reason for the twinkly eyes and sudden zeal. I should tell you that the Dana Carvey church lady in me just about had to pull out of traffic and search the minivan for smelling salts!
It seems that his mother had been a ding dong and dropped him off an hour early (in my defense, they changed the time,) so with an extra hour to spare, he and the other sixth grade boys with ding dong mothers had found some worthwhile pursuits to while away the time.
Pursuits like climbing to the top of the balcony and throwing paper airplanes.
"It was so fun!" Sam said. "You wouldn't believe how fun it was! Oh, and you got double points if you hit the baptistery!"
I nearly choked on my tongue.
But that wasn't all they did.
"That sanctuary room is amazing! Have you ever thought of how many hiding places it has?"
"No, I don't think I have."
"There's the pews of course. Dozens of those. I counted them one Sunday when I was bored, but I don't remember how many there were."
"But the best place is that little nook in front of the organ. You know, behind that short little wall? You can hide there and NOBODY will find you. You could do ANYTHING and nobody would know!"
"But you know the best part?"
"I can't imagine."
"The secret slide!"
"What secret slide?"
Sam explained it, but allow me to show you.
See how the pews are arranged theater style, descending toward the front of the church?
Well, take a look at this...
Now come closer.
Yep. That's the secret slide.
I doubt it works for adults, but it might. I haven't tried it.
Come to think of it, I could have been brave and given it a try if I'd wanted to. Nobody was in the room when I was taking pictures.
Sam says it's real slippery and slide-y. You just lie on your back, push off with your hands, and whatever you do, don't raise your head up. Those pews have sharp edges.
The whole time I was listening to Sam , I have to admit, I was having a fight with myself.
Part of me was thinking I should probably thump him on the head. Launch myself into a lecture about sacred space and reverence.
The other part of me secretly wondered what time of day might be best. Just when might no one notice a forty-something woman putting down her purse, taking off her shoes, and slipping under the center of the very back pew?
In case you're wondering, the forty-something secret slider won my internal debate.
You know who convinced me?
The sanctuary itself.
You might not notice it at first, even if you're sitting right there in a pew, but the worship room of First Baptist Church, Greenville, is designed to make us feel as if we're sitting under a huge tree together.
See the branches and limbs hanging over? The mammoth trunk rising up behind the pulpit?
Can't you imagine a crowd sitting under a tree, listening to Christ tell his stories? The children wouldn't sit stone faced. They'd play!
I can't imagine a better place.
But not during worship, of course. That might just earn you a thump on the head. :)
So what do you think? How do we manage teaching our kids reverence without worshiping the things of our sacred spaces? I'd love to hear your thoughts about finding play in church!
Have a beautiful, wonder-full weekend, y'all!
Thanks to Renée Turner for the paper airplane photo, licensed through creative commons.