Tuesday, June 08, 2010

the relationship between bananas and Jesus

"Peel, bananas, peel peel, bananas!"

He towered over the toddlers, arms stretched overhead, as he began singing and dancing in the motions of a banana peeling. They didn't dance or sing along or even giggle or smile. They just stared at him, mesmerized by this tall dancing man.

"Peel, bananas, peel peel, bananas!"

Somehow remembering this from some days at camp long ago, I began singing along and laughing as we sang as his wife laughed along with us.

"Go bananas! Go, go, bananas!"

I was there in the walkers and crawlers (a technical term referring to children under the age of two who can crawl or walk) class a couple of weeks ago because our church small groups alternate taking care of the kids during church services and I had missed a week I was supposed to serve because I had been vacationing in New Orleans. After being barraged with mass emails stating, "You missed a Sunday serving, we need YOUR help this Sunday to fill in," I finally gave in and volunteered for this Sunday after seeing that other friends of mine had volunteered too.

"Peel, bananas, peel peel, bananas!"

Round two of the song, and the kids still weren't showing any sign of wanting to sing or dance along, but continued to stare up at my tall friend. I grabbed the hands of the curly-haired blonde girl on my lap and moved her into the motions. She just stared at me with her huge blue eyes, with the same serious expression that she'd held throughout the evening. I never saw her smile and the most emotional expression I saw from this stoic child was when I sat her down on the floor prematurely and she looked up at me seriously, grunted a little, and began flapping her hands, which I took as her communication for, "Please, I urgently need you to pick me up again!" Of course, I was happy to comply with her nonverbal requests and she spent most of the evening on my hip or in my lap.

"Peel, bananas, peel peel, bananas!"

Myself and my two friends in that class helping would readily admit that we're not kid people. As I've written before and before, I feel kinda awkward around kids. I like kids, some more than others, but I often have trouble relating to little people who don't talk like adults. I think I'm getting better at this and find that I can connect with my nephew or kids from my church and it's actually pretty fun. And strangely, I've been feeling more maternal urges lately, when I've never felt like a very maternal person. Strangers' kids on the street catch my eye more often, they seem cuter than they used to, and the idea of me having my own kids sometime in a few years sounds pretty nice to me these days.

"Go bananas! Go, go, bananas!"

So, my friends and I were serving these kids. We carried them, we fed them, we held them when they cried (which thankfully all but one didn't cry too long), talked to them as if they were adults (because we didn't know how else to talk to them), sang to them, played music for them, and I even assisted as my friend changed a diaper, too much of a wimp too change it myself. Though none of us would claim to be great with kids or eagerly volunteer for babysitting, we did pretty good with them that evening. As best we could, we were Jesus to those kids.

"Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them. Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there."

Jesus valued kids and stated that the kingdom was for them, much as he valued other marginalized people groups and showed special care and concern for them. And so I'm called to show love to children, to old people, to the mentally ill, to drug addicts, to rape victims, to cultural minorities, to the homeless, to people who have been victimized or marginalized by society or somehow told that they weren't worth it. These are the people to love for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. And it challenges me. It doesn't feel natural to hang around a kid. I have friends who make it look so natural, who love being with children, who know exactly what to say or do or not say. But natural or not, I'm still called to love them.

"This is bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S!"

We decided to switch it up, and brought in a G-rated version of Hollaback Girl to sing and dance too. And as much as we were Jesus to those kids, they were Jesus to us.

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

They were Jesus to me, accepting me, being patient with me, challenging me. And I'm so thankful that I had the chance to go bananas with them.

*Inspired by and dedicated to Katie

1 comment:

tahni candelaria holm said...

yes! oh children...