Monday, April 16, 2012

Party in the Sanctuary

Easter weekend, ten of us packed into Jim's mom's trailer in Knoxville. We hadn't been together, all of us, since Charleigh had been born. We ate Krystal burgers; pizza; sausage gravy over biscuits; and bunny cake. We played Uno. We dyed and hunted eggs, prepared Easter baskets for Cade and the four girls. I dressed Char in a white bunny costume, Easter morning, and chased her out to the family, who burst into laughter.

But our best moments, I thought, were in church. In less than five years, Jim's mom's gained two daughters-in-law and five grandchildren. It meant everything to her: all ten of us dressed in Sunday best, filling two pews.

I'd never visited her church before, but I understood it: especially its burgandy Church Hymnal and action-packed altar. We shook hands with everyone at least twice. We sang "Everybody Will Be Happy Over There" and "Where the Soul of Man Never Dies," and--as part of an effort to keep our children hemmed in and quiet--we stuffed them with all manner of snacks.

Even so, Charleigh broke loose, once, and ran up the aisle calling: "Mamaw!" to Jim's mom, who was mid-song, behind the pulpit. But no one much cared because--in a church that doesn't offer nursery--people expect kids to party, a little, in the sanctuary.

Later, when Jim's mom returned to the front to sing, she grabbed Clementine's hand and took her along.

I'm telling you: all of it was beautiful, and I like to imagine Jim's dad looking down on our party of ten, especially the wiggly, wily, wiry littles (all bows and curls and sticky fingers) in those plush pews.

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