On Monday, L wrote "God is Love" to practice her handwriting and reading. After we sounded out the words, we talked a bit about what it meant: that God is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, three persons who love one another. And when we love one another, we are like God.
"When you are kind to your sister, and you love her, you are being like God."
"I do love, J."
Then we colored a picture of the icon of the Theotokos. L enjoys matching the colors to the icons; J reluctantly lets me guide her through one color before she runs away. I told them, "This is when Jesus was a baby. See how their cheeks are pressed together? They're hugging just like we do, because they love each other. Mary loves Jesus, and we should love God like Mary does."
This is big stuff for little ones. I never know how much of it they really get. L told me after our talk, "I love God, Mommy. I do." The girls kissed baby Jesus and pressed their cheek to Mary. Then they each gave me a hug, cheek to cheek, breaking my heart a little.
While attempting to say our morning prayers, L kept running away and did not want to venerate the icons. Finally I sat down with her and said, "Prayer time is important because we are spending time with God. We can't see God can we?" We looked around. "No. But we can see Jesus, because he became a man so that we could know God. That's why we kiss the icons: because we can see Jesus and it helps us remember that God is with us."
"How did God get in this world, Mommy?" (This is a favorite phrase, i.e. "are there any dinosaurs/monsters/zebras in this world?")
"Well, that's a special story," I told her, and I took her over to the icon of the Annunciation on my bedside table. She knows the story about the manger and the cave. It was just Christmas, after all. But this icon was in the room, so I showed it instead. "An angel came to Mary. She was a girl like you and me, but an angel came to her and said 'Rejoice, Mary! The Lord is with you.' And he told her that God was going to put a baby in her tummy, and it was Jesus. And Mary loved God, and so she was Jesus's mommy and God was his Father."
"Are there angels in this world?"
"Yes, but we can't see them either."
"But we can see them in the icons! And we can see Jesus in the icons."
"That's right!" And then she kissed Mary and the angel.
On Saturday, we met with Fr. James and our little mission for the Liturgy on the Saturday of Souls. During the service we remember the dead in prayer. I thought of the child I lost last year, Nicholas. He died unborn, thus unnamed in the service - but still he is remembered by God (and me).
After the service, Presbytera Eva gave me a necklace with a small pendant of the Theotokos and Jesus, pressing their cheeks together. She told me, "Jim (she called him) wanted you to have this because you have the children." Such love is heartbreaking. I thought of how the girls had struggled in my arms during the liturgy, and how I struggled to be patient. Then, I thought of Mary's love for God. I thought of Nicholas, whose cheek I had not touched. I thought of Jesus love for his mother.
And I resolved again to love. It isn't as easy at it sounds, and so each day we have to decide again.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. I John 4.7