After a week of Vacation Bible School, the children sing, perform, or report on their activities, depending on their age level. This early elementary class sang their Bible theme song, some with gusto, some looking shyly at the carpet or boldly waving at parents in the congregation. Our Maria Louise, the smallest girl in the group, walked to the front of the group. Her teacher knelt beside her holding a microphone and announced that Maria would recite Psalm 23. We held our breath, hoping she would remember the words. We could read the thoughts of other adults–that this child, if she remembered without prompting, would be unintelligible or entirely inaudible. But our little girl spoke slowly, clearly, audibly. She needed no prompting.
That was my primary memory when she announced she was changing to another branch of Christianity, and a few months later, that she would enter the convent she had recently visited for a retreat. That sets our three daughters at both ends and the middle of the Christian spectrum: Traditional ritual, Episcopal, and evangelical. We worship with all three and marvel at the width and depth of spiritual lives.
Sister Mary has been a professed nun for over 10 years in an order committed to prayer. We are welcome at the convent and have been making the long trip north for yearly visits.
A year or so before the Psalm incident, on a hot summer day when the girls were playing in the sprinkler outdoors, Maria came inside to show Daddy her “friend,” a small black beetle crawling on her arm. This year while she and I sorted bushels of apples into toss-out, use-immediately, and good-keeper piles, she stopped to show me, with the same delight in the tiny incidentals of God’s creation, an inch-long caterpillar working its way up her finger.