I went to church yesterday even though I haven’t ever been on a Saturday before.
It was a short service – 20 minutes or so.
There was no singing and no sermon.
And the service was held at noon outside a Baskin Robbins ice cream shop.
I took Livvy there, sweaty clothes, curly hair, red cheeks and all. We’d been at a park. Lunch was due at home. It was to be a good lunch too – brown rice, wild salmon, strawberries, broccoli. But we needed ice cream.
I asked her what kind she wanted and she said, “red” and then, “no, no, no, white.” I told her I was getting a milkshake. She said, “No, no, no. Daddy get ice cream!!” (There are “nos” a plenty these days – though they tend to be happy nos.) I started explaining that a milkshake was ice cream but gave up. “Yes, Daddy is getting ice cream.”
And so we arrived. She got a tiny vanilla cone. I got some berry smoothie thing that sounded marginally healthy and really good.
Then church began.
We took our seats in the shade on the sidewalk, backs against an adjacent storefront.
I started sipping on my smoothie – “Milkshake” for Livvy’s purposes.
She started licking her cone. First lick she got some on her chin. A perfect ice cream face with only one lick.
She sized up my milkshake and I asked her if she wanted a sip. She took a small one. It hadn’t made it to her tummy before she was back for more. And then more. And more. She offered me some licks of my ice cream cone. As I licked she went for the straw.
Then she stopped.
She stood up.
Tiny ice cream cone in her right hand, ice cream on her chin, berry smoothie everywhere else, she swallowed and said, “I LOVE milkshakes!!!”
I laughed with pure joy – perfect joy, holy joy. I laughed in a way that made God smile. I praised Him more with laughter than I could have with song – notwithstanding the fact I can’t sing.
Livvy smiled too. Then she looked at her ice cream cone and took a lick. And then she gave it to me for a lick. And back and forth it went. One lick for her and one for me. It was so pure. It was so innocent. I wanted to cry. Oh what a church service it was – one of the best ever.
Then she took a bite of the ice cream cone. “Oh! Livvy LOVES ice cream cones!”
She loved it so much she gave it me. And as I took a bite she took my milkshake. “Daddy eat Livvy’s ice cream. Livvy drink Daddy’s milkshake.”
And that is how the service wound down…with a two-year-old holding my smoothie like a priest holds the communion chalice; with my holding her ice cream cone with the reverence of the communion bread; with people around us stopping and watching and smiling and saying, “You know, I was watching you two and I decided I was going to treat myself to some ice cream.”
I wonder if they knew they were really watching God smile on two of his kids during church.