Monday, June 9, 2014

Confirmation Day

Grace was confirmed on May 28th.  She worked very hard to earn this sacrament.  In my opinion, too hard.  She attended a retreat, she wrote a report on her Saint (St. Cecelia, the patron Saint of musicians), she attended her weekly religious education class and an additional monthly confirmation class, she had to complete service hours, and attend special Mission Week masses.  I felt like the work load was to prove something to the church.  Prove she is worthy.  Prove she is educated in the catechisms of the church.  
The result was not a child who was running into church ready to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  It was a child who felt she completed a task, ready to check it off and put it past her.  She was worn out and burnt out on religious ed and church in general.  Mind you this was a child who was very active in church; a member of the youth group prior to officially being old enough to attend, a child who sang in the choir, volunteered at vacation bible camp, and played the piano at every children’s mass.  In my opinion, she is a child who was already flooded with the gift of the Holy Spirit.  
I am glad that Grace persevered throughout this difficult year.  She chose my cousin’s wife, who I consider my cousin too, as her Sponsor.  This woman is a remarkable role model for Grace.  She is one of those rare people who lives her faith daily.  It is not something she participates in, it is who she is.  I have no doubt that their special relationship will continue now that Confirmation has passed.  

As Grace prepared for Confirmation,  she deepened friendships with two of her classmates.  These friendships will continue on past the door of the religious education classroom.  These are friends with whom she can walk together with in faith.  They volunteer at Prospect House together, they bake for church events together and they all share their time and talents in the mass.  They are remarkable young ladies.  
I can see the gifts of the Holy Spirit at work in Grace (wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, fear of the Lord).  They are there in Lilah too.   She is working on developing them and understanding what they mean to her.  With these as guideposts throughout life, they will have a framework to make decisions, choose right from wrong, and walk in the way of Jesus.  I have no doubt they each of my girls will use their lives to honor their faith.  They already have.

I have to share my Confirmation gift to Grace*.  When Lilah made her First Communion, I purchased this painting from Sharon Tomlison’s Etsy Shop: All Norah's Art.  It was the epitome of Lilah: whimsical, fairy like, ethereal, and free of her cage, which in 2nd grade, was school.    I wanted Grace to have something similar.  I contacted Sharon to see if she was still selling her amazingly wonderful pieces of art.   We emailed back and forth and I explained I was looking for something similar to the piece I already had.  Grace is 13, and while she may be taller than me and often mistaken to be years older than she is, she has the heart of a child.  She is playful and quirky and constantly in motion.  She is smart and confident and capable.  She is embarking on a new phase of her life, both in the Church and in her life as a young lady.  I could not be prouder of the young woman she is and who she is becoming.  

Sharon created this stunning piece of art for Grace.  Another whimsical fairy.  This one holding an peacock egg.  The egg to me is so symbolic of Grace and the possibilities that will be available to her.  An egg is a gift of life, of energy, of possibility.  The bird is by her side, a companion, a playmate.  This was her beloved Jake, the best friend she lost this year. 


I wanted Grace to have a gift she will have forever.  I wanted her to have something to represent this moment in her life and the significance of it.  She is now considered an adult in the church having received all her sacraments of initiation.  She continues to play piano at mass and will continue to volunteer at Prospect House.  She may have had a rough year but it is behind her and the steps she takes forward will be of her own choosing.

* Permission to post artwork granted by Sharon Tomlinson


Diane Knecht said...

Love the paintings - a wonderful gift. It does sound like a busy year for her but she accomplished a lot and I'm sure you are very proud of her.

Karen said...

This is so totally beautiful Jess. I am so proud of Grace for all her hard work. And that painting!!!!!!!!! Lilah's is beautiful and Grace's is perfect for her. What an amazing gift to cherish forever.

Mary Prather said...

I am glad Grace persevered, too. I understand exactly what you are talking about. Anna will be completing her last year of confirmation this year. The curriculum to her is boring and compulsory (she said it's just like public school at church). Sigh. We have had a lot of talks about this, and quite honestly, it is one of the questions I have about being Lutheran -- why do our kids go through all of this at this particular age?

The artwork is just gorgeous, Jess. She will treasure that forever!

Jessica said...

I am proud she did not quit. Unlike many of the kids, Grace was not forced to do this. I feel that this sacrament is not about parental pressure, it is about the kids taking responsibility for their own faith development. I wanted her to do the work (whether or not she agreed with it or thought it was busy work) because she believed in the end result. We are glad the year is over!

Jessica said...

The post does not do the painting justice Karen. They are so colorful and whimsical and beautiful....

Jessica said...

Yes! For Grace her Sunday class was just bookwork and test taking. Her extra monthly class was at night when she would rather be at home and thankfully her friend's Mom often drove her so I didm to have to take Lilah out on those cold, dark winter nights. I struggled with this all year as I saw her lose more and more of her enthusiasm for church. She was a child who used to run into religious ed and sign up for every opportunity. Now she looks forward to playing the masses but that is all. It will be very interesting to see what Lilah does when faced with this decision. She is not as task oriented as Grace and unless she truly wants this in her heart she will not do the work involved and put up with the paper pushing and nonsensical tasks.

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