Why My Kids’ Shocking Post-Playground Behavior Is Good News

Why My Kids’ Shocking Post-Playground Behavior Is Good News

After school today, my youngest two kids and I visited the playground and then dropped into the church for a bathroom break before heading home. As we made our way toward the parking lot, my 6-year old son said, “I’m going to go for a walk in the Mary Garden,” and my 10-year old daughter said, “I’m going into the Adoration chapel to say the Lord’s Prayer.”

Huh? A slight wind could have blown me over.

“Uh…I stammered. Ok – no running,” I said to my little guy,” as he stared at me with a perplexed look. He had, after all, said he was going for a walk. I watched him disappear around the heavily pruned bushes.

I turned to my daughter. “And uh, remember, there will be someone in there. The Host – the Blessed Sacrament – is never left alone. Be quiet and respectful.” “Of course, Mom.” She drew in a breath, probably wondering if I was losing my mind, and withdrew into the room without a sound.

I just stood there, dumbfounded. They had sought quiet time. Unprompted. In places designed for contemplation with God.

Good God.

Yes, Good God. That’s what He is.

I wandered around for about 3 minutes and soon, my son emerged from the other side of the hedge and climbed onto the lap of a statue of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos C.Ss.R. I told him to sit next to the statue (which he agreed was more comfortable), and while he was telling me he had been studying a squirrel at play, I snapped this picture of him in all his innocence. taran-by-blessed-seelos-statue

Not long after, my daughter came out and said she’d prayed not only the Lord’s Prayer, but a decade of the Rosary – the first of the Luminous Mysteries.

By the time we got in the car I had collected myself and asked them, “Do you guys know why you wanted to spend that quiet time in the garden and the chapel today?”

“No,” they said.

“Because the Holy Spirit prompted you to. Anytime you feel invited to come spend a little time in quiet, just being at peace with God, it’s because He is seeking you. He’s your best friend and He loves you. He wants to spend time with you. I am so very glad you both listened to Him today.”

My daughter said she felt like she’d like to go again soon – maybe before school during the week sometimes.

Now that is some astounding and really good news.

Are There Serpents in Your Garden?

I hate snakes. Really, really, really HATE snakes.

I know, I know. Not all snakes are bad. But when I come across one, everything in me recoils. And last week, I came across three. So I’m not feeling any intellectual “warm fuzzies” for them right now.

One was under a pile of dead leaves that I picked up – with my hands – while gardening. (Lesson learned. Use a rake.)

The next – a baby – crawled into the basement through the back door, which my husband had left ajar. (Open screened windows are OK. Doors? Not so much.)

The last snake startled me the most.

One of our hounds was sitting beside the backyard fence, howling at 9:30 p.m. In a valiant attempt to be neighborly, I grabbed a flashlight and briskly set off across the lawn to fetch him. On the way, I stepped over a long silvery line in the grass. I realized what it was a split-second later. I shined the beam back onto this creature (who probably thought he could avoid humans at that hour) and I clearly saw a bulge in its middle. Yuck. Thank God for good foot placement.

None of these serpents were poisonous. And none of them were longer than 15 inches. They were probably all very young. A herpetologist would say that the presence of brown snakes and rat snakes indicates a healthy ecosystem, and would suggest that I should be grateful for natural control of the rodent population. There’s significant merit to these views, of course. Snakes were designed for a purpose. But my nerves don’t typically respond to logical arguments.

A quick Google search revealed that snakes in MD are most active in spring and fall, and they are biurnal.

Well, then. Now I know. Snakes. Night and day.

Evidence of what's out there.
Evidence of what’s out there.

I’ve been working hard to overcome this creepy mental obstacle – ignoring my bad dreams and reassuring my husband that I will continue to help with the yard work. But having serpents in the garden dulls its shine, doesn’t it?

Serpents are reminders that things are not the way I want them to be.

I want to see flowers, but not snake skins. I want cool shade and warm sunshine, but I don’t want to share them – with creatures who don’t have legs.

And it’s the way snakes have invaded my sanctuary that irritates me.

They are stealth. Quiet. Ugly.

They inspire fear.

They are not unlike the whispers in my head that slink into my creative thoughts and rob them of joy. You know the ones….

Why are you doing this?

You are not good enough. 

No one cares about your point of view. 

Your contributions are irrelevant. 

There are so many other people saying and writing the same things. 

You should give up. 

Ignoring the serpent, setting him aside, or disturbing his surroundings with bold noise so that he’ll shove off and go elsewhere – is hard, hard work. And some days, pushing past his lies takes all the energy I have. 

But we are called to be brave. We are called to be faithful to what we know is Truth.

So we move forward.

We cultivate our garden so its’ blooms overshadow anything ugly lurking within it.