By KATHY MACDONALD
I said it on Sunday. Publicly. During Sunday services at my church, the First United Methodist Church in Ann Arbor. I was flanked by 50 children. Surrounded by several hundred friends lining the pews in front of us.
And, yes, I have to admit that my voice cracked once with the emotion I was feeling. But I made it. And, in the process, I told the children a story that maybe a few of them will remember. You see, our church—like many congregations across the country—sets aside a time with children during Sunday services. One of our pastors, the Rev. Nancy Lynn, was giving a sermon about thankfulness on Sunday, so I used my time with the kids to demonstrate that powerful principle.
Our Children’s Moments work best when the speaker employs a bit of Show ‘n’ Tell. So, I packed up the “prayer quilt” the congregation had made for me when I was in the depths of my struggle with cancer. Congregations have been making this kind of prayer quilt for more than 20 years, using a model pioneered by Prayers & Squares, a grassroots quilting network that coincidentally began in a United Methodist church in California. In this style of quilt, the fabric layers are held together by long strings that church members gather to tie with silent prayers offered while tying each knot. Then, during a pastoral visit that week, the quilt is delivered.
The children were wide-eyed as I spread out my quilt on Sunday morning. Some were so intrigued that they stood up and eventually helped to hold the entire quilt aloft. I explained: “You know, after they gave me this quilt, I carried it with me everywhere. I never went to sleep at night, not once, without this prayer quilt. This quilt was made by all those people out there.” And I directed the kids’ gaze to the parents and grandparents sitting in the pews.
“I guess you could say I slept with everybody in this church!” I said, which drew a roar of laughter from the adults.
This was funny because there I was—laughing along with all of them. They all had helped me to become a cancer thriver. All of us were a part of that story I was sharing in my few moments with the children.
The entire story took five or six minutes. But, my message on Sunday really was two words: “Thank you.”
I told the crowd surrounding me: “I wouldn’t be here today doing this—without all of you. Thank you.”
The day’s scripture reading? It was about Jesus healing a group of 10 desperately ill people—and then only one of them bothered to return and thank him. Professionally, I’m a business consultant and, believe me, I understand how that happens. We recover. We get back into the swing of things. Our caregivers must know how thankful we are, right!?! We get busy with life and—we forget.
As I’ve said throughout this four-week series of columns: I don’t want to forget.
I want to remember so that in many ways, I can say: Thanks.
And, now, in reading these stories, you have become a part of this journey, too.
So, dear readers: Thank you.
How about you? What are you thankful for? Please, add a comment below. And share this column with a friend. Perhaps add your own thanks to that friend as you share this column.