Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Fear, Faith and a Felt Board

When I was a young girl, probably around 4 or 5, my mom took me to church. I remember it was called Rosemont Christian Church and my mom gave me a pen and a bunch of paper to occupy my time during the service. I was thrilled, as I was too young to enjoy/understand the sermon, count the crazy hats, or watch the old men fall asleep. Plus, it wasn't Sunday school. I HATED Sunday school.

First off, I was a big wimp and hated to be left alone anywhere without my mommy or daddy. It scared me. I was dropped off in a classroom and forced to play with a bunch of kids I didn't know or even want to know. I was probably very scared of them, as I was, and am, an unsocial type of girl. So, here I was, all alone in the kids class, making sand art and crosses with packing peanuts and glitter on them. Pretty exciting stuff. It also seems like every week, we had a Bible story that utilized a felt board. For those of you that don't remember, a felt board was a black and somewhat fuzzy board, that only things made of felt could adhere to. For instance, I remember a crudely cut Noah's Ark and various animals cut out in all colors. The teacher tells the story and throws the cutouts on the board and they miraculously stick. They were so technically advanced and amazing, that I'm pretty sure they are no longer in existence.

It doesn't seem like I went to class very frequently, as I can't recall the teacher's name or any of the kids I was with. But, one thing stands out in my mind as utterly horrifying and I'm not sure why. The powers that be in Sunday school, decided that I was in the wrong class, due to my age. I was, like 5, so does it really matter that I should have been with the 4, 5 or 6 year olds? So, I was trundled off with my doll, and put into another class. I hated it. It was ridiculous and I demanded to be put back into the class with the felt board. I figured if I cried enough, they would give in and let me go back. My unruliness worked and I was basically thrown back into the younger class and allowed to play with the big blocks and glitter peanuts. Why torture everyone with my lack of interest?

Faith is important, I realize, as is spirituality. This probably should be taught to young kids to get them in the spiritual mentality at an early age. I work in the church nursery once a month, with a bunch of 2-3 year olds. It is horrific. Chaos is the name of the game, with kids jumping on me, opening alarmed emergency exits and declining to participate in the mandated craft. I am given a tray of everything that is required to run my little group of spiritual newbies, snacks included. I have to read a detailed list, including scripted prayers and stories before class starts. It is so in depth that I have to usually read it twice and once again while I try to lead this rag tag bunch of angels. Rarely are they interested in what I have to offer, usually a brief recap of a Biblical story, that I myself, didn't know before class started. I stumble through, praying for the patience not to strangle the kids with the crepe paper palm leaves, I have just spent 10 minutes gluing, while they shout, "Hosanna," in my face. The kids run around, touching me with their gluey fingers while I struggle to maintain some kind of authority. I pass out the pretzel/animal cracker snacks. Some kid throws his pretzels at me, another crawls on the table, trying to grab a cracker from a little girl who is telling me she has to potty. Angels in training, for sure. When my shift is done, the other mom/helper proclaims that this was a rough night and if she was a drinking mom... Thankfully, I was heading for the bar and would have one for her.

People worship differently. I like the calm approach, with limited body movements, good music and a nice message. The minister at my church has a fresh, upbeat way to deliver his sermons. It can be very interactive, with videos and theatrical interpretations. All very nice. Sometimes, though... There are times when I can't concentrate, I begin to watch the teenage girl, walking to wherever, wearing a tube top and miniskirt. I look at all of the new babies, check my watch. I get antsy. I don't know if God understands. I hope so. In the meantime, maybe my minister should invest in a felt board.

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