I spent last week at the Liturgical Composers Forum in St. Louis. I’ve never attended an event quite like this—one part retreat, one part professional conference, one part social hour(s)—and the most amazing musical prayer I’ve ever experienced. When we began evening prayer the first night in the chapel at the Mercy Center, the sound almost flattened me. I don’t know how else to explain it. To be in a group of forty or so highly-trained professional musicians, two thirds of them men—it’s just not a sound you encounter very often. It was incredibly prayerful.
It was also amazing to be in a room full of people whose work has shaped the worship of my adulthood—and some of them my childhood as well–and to feel at home among them. Like I belonged there. They were so open, so welcoming. As a group of followers of Christ ought to be.
There was affirmation at every turn, and inspiration. There was (a little) time to be still and to walk through the grounds. There was definitely not enough sleep, but the tradeoff was worth it.
All week, people kept asking, “So are you missing your kids?”
But inevitably they were asking at 7a.m., 3:30 p.m., or 7:45 p.m.—which are, respectively, leave-for-school time, pickup time (AKA the Witching Hour), or bedtime. I would say, “Do you know what is happening in my house right now? Um, no.”
Friday morning a friend and fellow composer brought his four year old to breakfast, and for a second I couldn’t breathe. I can’t quite put it into words; it was a visceral, body-and-soul kind of thing. I lost the thread of the table conversation entirely. And I went, “Oh, it must be time to go home.”
When I pulled into the driveway a couple hours later, Michael flung the door open and stood on the threshold giggling. I soon found myself flat on the kitchen floor with a four-year-old lying on top of me. He wasn’t even wiggling. For the rest of the day he didn’t want to be out of my sight, and preferably he wanted to be on my lap.
I met the boys at the door after school. Alex gasped and said, “Mom!” and threw his arms around me. And then it was done, but it was a brief, most un-tween-like display of passion. Nicholas was considerably less reserved. When Julianna got off the bus, she was all giggles. And frankly I think Christian was most of all relieved to be done with single dad duty!
Everyone in the world walks in multiple worlds, professional and personal, and I’m certainly not the only one to feel disoriented by how far apart they sometimes seem. But being away for a few days helped me feel connected to something bigger than my insular little home. And it gave me enough of an emotional break to really appreciate how hysterically funny it can be to parent little boys.
Friday afternoon, my four-year-old boy—the same one who said Wolverine has sharp forks–came running up to me and shouted, “Mommy, look! I am wearing LIP GLOSS!”
My cup runneth over.