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 distributions...so 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.