Just when I think they're not paying attention God sends us a dead bird.
It was this past Sunday after rest time my boys went outside to play. I was expecting the usual American Ninja Warrior training attempts with the makeshift obstacles they've created. Or maybe they'd tire themselves on the trampoline by trying to bounce one another over the net (attempted never achieved). Suddenly my youngest burst through the door telling me to come quickly, "there's a black squishy thing out there you've got to see! It's an emergency!". I braced myself for what I might see. Some half dead snake perhaps (at which point I wouldn't be able to help them if they were scared...it's hard to help when screaming while standing on top of the kitchen island). Thankfully it was only a dead bird. The older two boys asked if they could get the medical gloves we use for picking up dog poop and take a closer look at the bird. I had no problem with that as long as I didn't have to touch it.
I walked away but few minutes later I went to check on them to make sure they weren't being disrespectful to the bird. I'm fine with scientific study which may include opening the chest cavity to see what everything looks like, but I do have a problem with breaking bones or popping off a head just to see what it might feel like to destroy a creature...even a dead creature. To my delight not only were they being respectful, they were planning a burial for the poor thing.
My youngest was the grave digger while my older two were clergy. My middle guy got his blue belt from Jiu Jitsu and wrapped it, best he could, like an Orthodox deacon, over his white tee shirt. The oldest came out with what looked a little red ridinghood cape with his yellow jiu jitsu belt representing his stole. They placed the bird in a clear empty tennis ball container and began the service by singing their rendition of a burial song "O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good alleluja. For His mercy edureth forever and ever alleluja". Of course their version didn't include all the words, but it was a good attempt. The oldest held out our cross shaped wind whirl thing for the other boys to kiss and then sang as they circled the grave several times. He took hold of his martial arts belt and held it up over the grave and blessed it with the sign of the cross while the young deacon picked dried weeds to represent the flowers we needed to place on the grave. The bird was placed in the grave and we placed the weeds on top of the "casket" while the "deacon" faced the attendees (me) to announce the service that would be happening directly following the burial. The grave digger placed dirt atop the grave as the "priest" poured little vials of Holy water over the grave and blessed it with a large rugged cross they had made from nailing two pieces of wood together. They bowed to the icon of the Holy Trinity and again circled the grave singing. Finally the "priest" gave a moving homily and said a prayer over the "righteous bird" that it might "live again in heaven and live for good this time". The grave digger whispered something into the "deacon's" ear calling him away into the club house. Right when the "priest" finished out came the two youngest and dramatically said "I'm Conan and I'm Thor and we're here to pump (stomp) you up!" In their best Arnold Schwarzenegger accents (learned this from camp).
Then they went back to arguing and fighting, but a moment of Holiness took place. And a piece of me wonders if that bird did get to heaven with a surprised look on his face while a bewildered St. Peter ushered him into the Kingdom by the faith and devotion of these little ones.