Tod Worner is a father to two little girls and last week, he set out to teach them a little about the faith. He ended up learning something as well:
We had just arrived. And I wasn’t sure how they would react. In my 7 years of being a father, I have discovered that there are times you are best served by being completely up front with your young kids and other times you tactically avoid divulging information until it is absolutely necessary. There is no effort in this to deceive, but only to be strategic in information sharing. And so on this Thursday (my day away from clinic) after a lazy start sponsored by my cheesy scrambled eggs and Sponge Bob Squarepants, my two daughters and I rolled into the nearly vacant parking lot of the St. Paul Cathedral.
As I sat in the front seat of my car, I braced for the reaction to come from my five and seven year old daughters straining against their booster seats behind me. “Where are we?”. I didn’t say much. Tick-tick-tick. But then I peered in my rearview mirror and saw them both craning their necks to see if they could glimpse the top of the magnificent structure in front of us. “The Cathedral”, I answered. “Whooooooaaaaaa!” was their reaction. Score. Major score.
And so we went in. Walking across the relatively untravelled street, petite fingers of small hands gripped each of mine. There couldn’t have been a prouder dad in the state of Minnesota (or the world). For the next hour, a dad and his two sweet girls meandered through a peaceful and ornate house of God. “What animals do you see with those big statues of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John?” “What are your favorite colors on the stained glass windows?” “How tall do you think that dome is from the inside?” These are the questions I asked. Some they answered and some they sweetly dismissed. They were simply too busy looking all about them. They were lost in wonder. My tendency is to talk. And talk. And talk. So I needed to restrain myself. And just be with them. And listen.
They were struck by how big the Cathedral was and wanted to know what the confessionals were. They were entranced with the agony of Mary in the replica of Michelangelo’s Pieta and wanted to light a votive candle for Mom (who was at work). They were able to giggle and yet be silent, to walk quickly down an aisle and yet kneel in a chapel for a brief prayer.
Now, I have to admit. This “weekday adventure”, in my mind, starred me as the educator. I was excited that these little girls hadn’t balked at my idea so I was going to make the most of it. And while I sat them down in one of the front pews under the towering dome to impress upon them the blood, sweat and tears that went into building this splendid structure and the importance of remembering that those to whom much has been given, much will be expected, I realized that the lesson I was trying to teach them was a shadow of what they were unwittingly teaching me.
Go read it all.
The Dostoyevsky quote he concludes with is in itself worth the trip.
Oh how I wish I had done with my boys what Tod has done with his girls.