Sunday, March 13, 2011

Today I smell like yeast.

Today I smell like yeast.

Today is the first Sunday of Lent, and as is tradition (meaning:  we did it last year), we make pretzels in Sunday School.  My job is to buy supplies, make the dough, make sure everyone's hands are washed, walk the younger kids through rolling dough, walk the other kids through folding and egg-painting, get the tray in the oven, make more dough, write names on parchment paper so everyone gets to eat their own pretzel when they're done baking, tell a little one to go wash her hands again because she had her thumb in her mouth, get warm water for the kids whose dough is too dry, get flour for the kids whose dough is too wet (yes, there's a relationship there), put another tray in the oven, check the first tray, drag one of the older girls off the piano because as previously established we don't play piano during Sunday School time, make more dough, walk the youngest ones through rolling it again, convince the older ones not to just make "pretzels" that are the first letter of their name, promise the middle ones that yes-they-will-get-to-eat-them, make one more batch of dough, roll dough for the youngest ones, wipe down one table, get more warm water for the drier dough, wipe down the same table again, remove all the pretzels that are the size of footballs and suggest that their creators make them smaller just like the three they made before this one, finally finish all the pretzels and send the kids off to their classrooms, wipe down the second table, listen to the boy who disappeared next door for twenty minutes and now wants to make his pretzel and is whining because I'm soo mean.

And although it makes me crazy, I like this job.

Not just the pretzel baking (although it's pretty great, with tasty results) but I love working with the kids. I don't ever know if anything I'm teaching is sinking in, and there are some days when they are so adept at pushing my buttons that I want to yell or scream or possibly quit, but eighty-six percent of the time, I love my job.

Working with kids is one of the few social interactions that doesn't trigger anxiety.  I'd guess because the kids are all smaller than me, and I'm in a position of power.

But I think it's also because I'm in a position of service.

I signed on because I love these kids.  Yes, they drive me nuts, and they exhaust me, but I love them.  And I believe we have something worthwhile to teach them, something good and true and life-changing.  I want to be there for that.  I don't do this because I want them to have fun; if that was so, we'd just go to the playground down the street or run around in the fellowship hall or whatever they wanted to do.  No, there is something bigger going on, and I want to be a part of that.

So I realize that when I'm in a position of service - when I show up because I know something important is happening, and I want to put my hands to work in its mission - I don't feel anxious.  Something bigger than my obsessions and repetitive thoughts is going on.

And I want to keep being a part of that.

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