Sunday, May 31, 2009

The D Days of Summer

We have hardly had time to rejoice in summer (I know you are going to tell me summer doesn't come till June 21, but when school is out it is summer) can we since we have been celebrating everything D.

Please note when I am done with this blog entry, which may have a somewhat negative tone I am off to pray and find center with myself.

Thursday morning I rose early readied myself for work, as I had to dash there as soon as D's 8th Grade Recognition ceremony was complete. Wait did I say recognition? Now it was a ceremony that started ten minutes late and finished 15 minutes early--so by 830am the powers that be managed to herd across a stage, Team A, 1/3 of a 600 plus student 8th grade class. Recognition. What recognition? There was no other honor bestowed upon these hard-working-school-loving children except for a "you finished middle school" certificate. No President's scholar certificates. No you were in the musical certificates. No you're a mythology or geography bee winner. No perfect attendance award. No you are the kid who did nothing so here's a made up certificate to make you feel part of the class. As proof to the herd them in and out feeling that was felt and expressed by many parents (more of those who have experienced recognition day in the past) see exhibit A: D receiving her manila envelope with the photo of some boy on the screen behind her. He may have been the next in line, but more like two or three behind her. The fashion of the day was the required yellow "class of 2013" T-shirt, shorts and comfortable shoes (in D's case flip-flops).

After a few pictures snapped with friends in the foyer of the auditorium Team A was bussed back to the middle school were they were to have a team gathering of award when I tell you D received a team superlative of "Most Likely to be a Teacher" you must believe this because I was told by her and several of her friends. I will only assume the budget cuts the district has recently gone through left no extra paper to print any hard copy proof--for any type of award or recognition. So I'll just take a minute to to tell you about her greatness...she had straight A's all three years of middle school and took all honors courses, she was in the musical all three years having a supporting role this year, was a member of the concert choir all three years and show choir for two years, participated in solo/ensemble two years where her quartet always received a one rating, she received the highest honor in choir (remember her friends call her a "choir champion")...oh gosh that's enough sugar coating.

Then because of the rain the after party was moved from the park to the high school commons area and gym 3. Thankfully I went to work to finish out the school year in a more calm and peaceful manner, because according to D and her best gal pals--and my good friend who tortured herself as a chaperon with her assigned post being guarding a door for three hours-- it was "utter chaos and lame". Parents quickly gathered three Wii systems and a few Guitar Heroes (for 600 kids), ball games of all kinds in one gym. Balls going every which way and any way is the description that was provided me, with a few Frisbees flying through the air as rain out entertainment. Lunch was good I am told and spending last moments with a good longtime friend who is moving to Massachusetts. See exhibit B and C: three neighbors girls, three bus buddies, three walk to St. Louis Bread Co. (Panera to you non-STL people) pals, three slumber at each others houses on a Friday night friends, three girls intertwined with allegiance to there chumminess...two kissing one goodbye with a promise of friendship forever.

I'll fast forward to Sunday, D's confirmation.

Can I start by just saying I am a very traditional person, which carries into my style and choice of worship? I find connection with God through structure, tranquility and peace. So three years ago when our church adopted a contemporary service, I refer to it as rock-n-roll worship, or as the church labels it "Crossover"; I was less than embracing. As the years went on I became less enchanted with many aspects of how these services were and are conducted, no matter how much I tried to embrace change. I rarely attend late service and opt to rise with the rooster on Sunday to attend the traditional 8am service.

When M was confirmed during the contemporary service it was modified in such a way not to comprise the Crossover belief yet had a most tranquil and moving style--the music, the faith statements... I left M's Confirmation touched and my tank filled with the fuel of God that I looked forward to another confirmation experience

That day came today for D. After two years of instruction on the affirmation of the baptismal vows we took for her in her infancy; a personal faith statement written to perfection (because I enforced the rule that a thesaurus is your best friend when writing insisting she use "grown-up" words)... hear the screeching halt of my soul coming to an abrupt stop D's Confirmation was what I call full on Crossover. Rock band of drums and electric guitars beating rhythm in high volume which left little space to warn that a cross-less (because the first year confirmand that was to carry the cross didn't bother to show up) procession of two confirmands and two unrobed ministers had just walked down the isle, followed by an introductory drama lesson to explain Pentecost Sunday, a send out song that left me perplexed...I was pre-warned to be prepared to "feel the spirit move" for this service [as it was Pentecost]. Our family guests were more than freaked and not much movement of spirit was felt. Although D's faith statement was moving in expression and touched my heart that she is someone who has been raised, embraced and has chosen for herself to live a life of Christian beliefs...I left unfilled, empty and wondering if this church is the place that I should call home, the place where I want to worship each week. Sadly I have felt this way for the better part of a year, always hoping and praying that maybe I had just stepped off the path and needed God to kick my butt back on. But after our family meeting tonight we are a family of same feeling and we decided that after attending the youth gathering this July that we would sit down again, talk and decide if the church that once filled our souls with the fuel of God's love, whose people's warm hearts welcome so lovingly; is this the place for us to call home. When the president of the church council presented D with a Lutheran hymnal as a congregation gift he said we are all part of God's "art gallery". I just wonder if the painting that is the Avery Family is hanging in the right gallery? But while we decide we will go into the world walking hand in hand with D who was blessed and bestowed with the "Gift of Joy" as her priceless Confirmation gift from our minister. Maybe, just maybe her light and the joy she has will be our guiding force. Joy filled is exactly how she looks in these photos that mark the memory of this day.
Each day as she heads out into the world to share her "Gift of Joy" she can stop and gaze at her faith project that is proudly placed in our entry foyer, a creation that she and King Ralph fabricated in the garage over saws, nail gun and clamps. A project of interior design beauty that will always remind D as she enters the front door of her confirmation verse, Jeremiah 29:11. Actually when she heads out the door she can remember her confirmation verse; as our gift to her was a silver coin trimmed in gold engraved with her name on the front and Jeremiah 29:11 on the reverse side which hangs around her neck and is accented with a pearl pendant from her godmother. A pearl because in religious terms it stands for salvation, precious wisdom or even our own divine spark within.

(now I bet a whole lot of you are flipping through your Bibles to read Jeremiah 29:11)

Now know this D, we, your whole family are proud of you and know for certain that God most certainly does have a plan for you-- one with hope and future.


thehappyhunt said...

Wow--that's a lot to ponder. Loved all the pix...especially Jodi's white sandals! Congrats, Demi on 8th grade graduation, all of your many Sperreng accomplishments and of course on getting confirmed!!

JODI said...

I do have good taste in sandals, don't I? ;-)

Lin said...

Wow. Don't you feel like she was cheated on many levels here? I really hate that the new deal for kids is not acknowledging achievements due to lack of funding and/or the feelings of the less achieving students. She deserved so much more--what a great kid you have there!! She needs a certificate for her academics and her accomplishments! She needs to be rewarded for being a good student and overall kid. Sigh. I'm sorry for her and her friends who deserve to be honored.

As for the Rock 'n Roll Jesus--Catholicism lost me years ago. Each church, each pastor has the opportunity to mold their church into something wonderful--and they don't. Guilt doesn't work for me--doesn't empower me. On the contrary. Rock 'n Roll doesn't make me come to church--it makes a circus out of the place. It's hard for me to get a message out of the same readings year in and year out. I'm turning more spiritual and less religious every day.

I chose not to have my children confirmed in 8th grade--I still think it is their parents and not them who willingly choose their faith at that age. (That's just me--no judgement to you, friend.) My son asked me when he was 14 to be confirmed and I was all excited--"Okay" I said. "why now?" To which he replied "Chris Ward got $300 bucks when he was confirmed". Nuff said.

Hey--Congrats on a great, Jodi. And those great shoes.

JODI said...

Lin- I struggle with the idea that religion has come to the point where entertainment is the base. Or that the only way to draw people, mostly the young, to a life of Chrisitian faith is to offer up an entertainment based service. Rock style music, dramas to interupt the Bible,the congregation leading worship opposed to the minister...all these leave me hollowed.

When it came time for the girls to be confirmed we let that be there decision. We discused with them the responsibility and life-time commitment that comes with accepting yourself as an adult in the church; and it wasn't a "graduation" of sort or a get-out-of-jail card to qui on worship. Gladly the girls all understand and accept that understanding of their faith. M serves, by her own choice, on the church council, A played her flute for traditional services for many years and D is expressing her own sadness in the style her confirmation played out and the loss of some of the fundementals of the Lutheran church--in these contemporary services. There is certainly some truth that we parents are an influence on our childrens ideals, and I am sure my more traditional style choice is a huge factor in our family unity of feeling...but, I also believe in letting my girls be each there own individual, and that they are. If one of them would have chosen not to be confirmed I would have been completely supportive of that choice. When they were all confirmed our recognition of the day was very simple and reflective of those who gathered around the baptismal font; mom, dad, siblings and godparents (and grandparents) reaping a fortune was never an option for the Avery girls.

In the mean time I search--my soul. Not as a believer but for a right home to worship.

Lin said...

Nicely put, Jodi. I'm with you on this one. Religion is tough these days--look at the numbers leaving the Catholic church--something is wrong there.

On another note: I've linked you on my blog today. I'm on this quest to get you more readership. You write so well, you deserve more readers.

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