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day 5: the smallest endeavor

February 6, 2011

My kids love to go to what they call “jumpy places.”  You know, those overpriced warehouses stuffed to the gills with giant inflatable germ-ridden trampolines?  Our family awoke to a dreary Saturday morning, and in hopes of getting the kids some exercise we sojourned here.

I don’t usually do this, but I must have been feeling magnanimous.  I gave in to incessant begging for tokens so the kids could play Whack-A-Mole, Skee Ball, and that dumb crane thing that promises stuffed animals to gullible preschoolers and delivers only disappointment.  I only had a five dollar bill, which meant we got twenty tokens — a veritable windfall of gaming joy.  My kids ran, wild animals, from machine to machine stuffing in their tokens.  I noticed two little boys watching my kids play this super-lame popcorn game, eyes wide with envy.

I peeled my oldest off the idiotic machine.  “Those boys really look like they want to play,” I hinted.

Silence.

“I don’t think they have any tokens,” I went on.

More silence.

“Maybe you and your brother could share some of yours?”

Finally, a light of recognition in his game-drunk eyes.

He took a few tokens out of my hand and gave them to the boys who, shocked at their good fortune, thanked him in a way that would’ve made their mommas proud.

My boy disappeared back into the jumping throng, this moment just a tiny tick on his radar screen.  I was left to think about the example I want to set for my children, and what a daunting task it is to send our kids out into the world.

I was reminded of this sermon by the late Unitarian Universalist minister Forrest Church.  His words, “Want what you have, do what you can, be who you are” have become a mantra of sorts for me.  In trying to attend to “the joy to be gained in even the smallest endeavor,” I am able to think small, to avoid getting overwhelmed, and to stay in the present moment.  I want my kids to access that joy, to celebrate sharing their light with others, and to appreciate those little windfalls that show up every day.

With that, I wish you all a happy Sunday.  Thank you for showing up.

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