Jared Hall attends St. John of Kronstadt Orthodox Church in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Both of my children, Seamus and Jonah are speech delayed. Because of this, I have always tried to find simple prayers for Seamus–who can talk–to say. After many tries, we finally accomplished the short and simple, but oh so mighty, prayer, ‘Lord have mercy.’ And the smile on that boy’s face, I tell you…
There are times that I get discouraged that my children are delayed: when they are playing at a park with other children, the phrase “I don’t understand you,” gets said often. And Seamus is always asked to repeat himself, even by me and mom. And, of course, some of the speech issues overlap into other processing issues: sounds, touch, coordination, etc. It always saddens me that if we forget to prepare Seamus for something, he freaks out; like when we go up to get anointed by our priest, or if we switch communion lines. Sometimes simply trying to leave the house results in meltdowns.
But there are times when I forget all about these issues. Times when I revel in the sheer beauty of my children. The simple way they attempt to cross themselves. The way Seamus will prostrate every time because it was Lent when we started teaching him to pray. The way my two year old, Jonah, still smack-kisses the icons, each and every one of them, each and every time! And how proud he is when he sees the icon of the Archangel Gabriel and he pats his chest, telling us and everyone around him that that is his icon, his patron.
But recently, nothing has gotten to me more than a story my four year old told me. Seamus quietly came up to me one night and told me that he was playing with Mary.
“Who is Mary?” I asked him, only to have him lead me to his room. (See above a picture of the icons in his room.)
There he proceeded to show me the icon of the Theotokos that is at his height.
“This is Mary!” he said to me.
He went on to tell me that he and Mary play together often. That she is in his room a lot, and that she has a house she lives in in our house. I’m sure some of this is simple make-believe. But I believe very much that he is interacting with Mary, and the other saints, too. And I believe whole-heartedly that he knows and experiences God in a way that I can only hope to.
“Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Mat. 19:14
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