Watching children while the preacher’s praying

Published 10:46 am Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I glanced through the glass from the back, waiting to enter. All adult heads had taken their stately posture, some heads higher than others, but all tilted down, solemn, shutting out the world, striving to hear the words, seeking to connect upwards, bonding to the holy. Don’t get me wrong, I commend them.

But the children. Ah yes, the children! This was their time of license. As if the adults had left them, abandoned them to their play! If but for a minute! And they were…what shall we say…released? If only for a moment?

Rebecca (I believe that was her name, age 7). She peered backwards over the pew, seeking comrades. Ridley (I believe that was his name, age 8) caught her mischievous eyes and said, in so many words, we have freedom! And Milo, who often succumbed to adult supervision, said – if only with his eyes – let’s do it! We are free! And Mandy (short for Amanda, you know) looked at Simon, and said, (only with her eyes), “What are you doing back there, three pews back? And Simon looked over at Arthur (age 6, Arthur the third, actually, which comes from his great grandfather) said, “None of the adults are paying attention! We are alone!” Freedom!!! (like “Braveheart,” the movie). Benny, over to the left, stood up and raised his arms! (as his parents took their acceptable position, solemnly bowed) “I dare you to do this!” (as he did the locomotion, while dancing).

Lucille, prim and proper, who considered herself quite the queen, said, in so many words, “I shall not succumb to such frivolous, immature behavior (though she was only 9, you know), and bowed her head, like the adults, as if to say, “I am above such childish behavior,” while Isaiah (a biblical name, obviously), slipped by his parents and ran down the aisle and back, silently rebelling against the cultural norms of the day (all the while his parents were focusing upwards), while Stuart, only 4, watched in amazement, thinking, “One day, that will be me.”

Then the preacher said “Amen.”

And everyone said “Amen.”

And all went back to normal.

REX ALPHIN of Walters is a farmer, businessman, author, county supervisor and contributing columnist for The Tidewater News. His email address is