'You first'

Helping children learn about God's care

My friend Kate is better than an alarm clock. She calls early and wakes me up. I stay up late watching baseball games. Kate gets to bed early and is up and ready for school when she calls. Kate never asks if she has waked me. She figures she's awake and the world is awake, or should be.

I have known Kate since she was so little she spoke a different language – little-people language. Now she is big enough to be in kindergarten, and I understand most of what she is telling me. Today she was telling me about seeing "Beauty and the Beast." She said the Beast was scary sometimes, and she said how she liked Belle, who is Beauty.

She called this morning because she said she had a sore thumb. We talk about praying to God, and Kate says, "You first." I say, "No, you first," and we go on like that until I am awake enough to say a prayer with her.

"Dear God," I start, because I like to think of prayers as letters to God. "Dear God, You are perfect Father-Mother, and I am happy to know and think about that. Today Kate wants to see only 'beauty' and no 'beast' in her day. She wants to remember she is like You. She is Your child, and You never made her anything but perfect." We end our prayer with "thank you" and "I love You" to God.

A prayer is more than what you say out loud. You could say nice things out loud but not really believe them. Then you would only have words. Pretty words, convincing words, interesting words, but without inside prayer, outside prayer isn't enough. Inside prayer is what you think and know when you are quiet and talk to God as your friend.

Prayers don't have to be long. They should be as wonderful and easy as watching the sun rising over a hill early in the morning, making everything light.

Another name for God is Love, and the woman who started this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote, "Love, redolent with unselfishness, bathes all in beauty and light" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 516). We are the reflection of love, unselfishness, and when we pray, we can feel like we've just had a sunshine shower of beauty and light.

Inside prayer wakes us up to all that is light and nothing that is dark. As we are quiet and let the light fill us up, nothing dark can hang around and make us feel sad or bad or afraid.

After Kate calls, I start to do my chores. I'm thinking about beauty, and my daughter, who is old enough to live in her own house, calls me, troubled about some problems she has had with her friends, wondering if she has been less than loving. Hmmm. Sounds beast-like to me, and I tell her about being lovely, not cranky – letting into her thought beauty and not letting any beastly behavior hide her true beautiful self.

That night, just before the baseball game begins, Kate calls to say goodnight, and that her thumb feels better. We decide to say a tuck-in prayer. I say, "You first." Kate is quiet. "God loves me?" she says, like a question. "YES," I say. That's enough. What a big prayer for a little girl. I am so happy to hear her prayer.

"See you later, alligator."

"After a while, crocodile." We say our favorite goodbyes until the next time she wants to call and wake me up.

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