Today in church school the girls heard the story of Jesus's baptism. On the way home I mentioned our lenten table, and Alessia suggested a bowl of water to go with the story. Up until this point I've made all the suggestions about what to put on our lenten table, so I was glad that she made a suggestion of her own. This afternoon we read the story of John baptizing Jesus, and then we went back and read the creation story. We talked about how the water that God created in the beginning was the same water that Jesus was baptised in and the water that we were baptised in. Interconnectedness seems to be the theme of our Lent. I hadn't planned on that, but the girls are really enjoying it, and it is an idea that has grown in importance for me over the years as well. I showed them the shell that the minister Alessia gave us at her baptism, and I talked about how priests along time ago used shells to pour the water when baptising. The girls brought up the book Big Anthony by Tomie dePaola. In the book, Little Anthony is being baptised and he knocks the shell out of the priest's hands and spills the holy water everywhere. Olivia put the shell on our lenten table and Alessia and I got a bowl of water. They were pretty ready to run off and play at that point, but I got them to stick with me long enough to bless the water as we do in church before a baptism.
Friday we found ourselves talking about Ash Wednesday again. Olivia and I were at the library and I found a book called Stars Under Your Bed: the Surprising Story of Dust. While the book itself is not at all religious, it fit in well with our discussion on Ash Wednesday and our theme of interconnectedness. So I brought it home to read in the afternoon after Alessia got home from school. On the way home from school we made a quick stop and as we were getting ready to leave, Alessia said to no one in particular "When a kid dies they turn to dust." Oh. I said "yes, honey. Remember when mamma told you that the minsters on Ash Wednesday say 'remember you are from dust'? They also say 'and to dust you shall return'." I hadn't said it on Ash Wednesday, because I had wanted the focus to be on our creation. I quickly added "but there is another part of us, inside, the part that makes us us, that continues, that goes on to be with God." We were in a public space and heading out the door, and so I ended the conversation there. When we got home we read the dust book. Both girls loved it. They loved the idea that the dust around us comes from everywhere, animals, plants, sea spray, and even, yes, the stars, and some of that dust has been around for a very long time. I brought up what Alessia had said when we were out, and again I said that our bodies turn to dust, but there is another part of us inside. I said that that our bodies are a gift from God, our bodies are what allow us to see, hear, taste, touch, and smell the world around us (Alessia got a big smile here as she loves reading about the human body), but that there is also another part of us. Olivia demanded in her 3-year-old way "what's it called?" And I realized that I've never used the word soul with the kids before. "Our souls, our souls live on. My dad's body turned to dust after he died, but his soul, the part of him that was him, the part of him that loved me, that part went on to be with God." I hadn't intended to say any of that. It just came out. And all three of us sat there absorbing it, before we picked up the next book.