Thursday, May 28, 2009


it is very important to adam and me that we raise our children to be spiritual individuals. to have a sense of the sacred. that's a large reason why we decided to create a "god squad" for gracie. it's also an excuse to bring her to the kleuterkerk at the catholic church next door...

one day gracie and i were playing on the jungle gym across the street from the church. it was almost time to go home, but before we did, we decided to go into the church to light a candle in the mary chapel (something we do regularly). on our way indoors, a very nice woman with bright eyes stopped and looked very intently at gracie. this normally happens anyway, so i didn't think much of it at first. but there was something really intense about this woman, so i just waited for her to start talking -- i felt like there was something that she wanted to say.

she began to explain to me (in dutch) that once every week there is this kleuterkerk (kleuter = preschooler. kerk = church) and that we were heartily invited to join. "is gracie too small?" i asked. "do we need to be there exactly at 10:00 in the morning?" she assured me that gracie was not too small (though when she found out that gracie was really only 13 months old at the time, she was shocked because gracie was walking and talking so easily already!) and that we can come and go as our scheduled permitted. it was very easy-going, she said. "just come, don't be shy -- we would love to have you both!"

well the very next week (and pretty much every week thereafter) gracie and i went. we've gone every week except for one because i was sick, and then of course we missed a few meetings while we were travelling in the UK recently. but pretty much, every week, we are there!

this is usually what happens: church begins at 10:00, and the mamas (or grandmamas) and the little ones meet in the parochiehuis (where gracie's creche is located on sunday mornings) for about half an hour. we drink coffee or tea, and the children get settled in with their toys and little cups of juice. there are usually cookies offered to everyone too. (about a half hour later is when gracie and i normally show up -- i know the church is right around the corner, but we are LAZY in the mornings and all three of us hang out and eat breakfast together for much longer than is necessary... it's a great way to start the day.)

by 10:30, the kids are starting to get a little restless, and most everyone has arrived, so we are all led into the sanctuary. we sit in the front of the church, to the right of the main altar, at an altar with the holy family on it. gracie and i normally arrive right at this part, and i'm always sad if we miss it cuz it's my favorite part of the morning! we say a prayer first. then we sing songs about how happy we are to be children of god, and we sing about how jesus loves all the children of the world. sometimes we read a book -- about peace, about jonah and the whale, about jesus. whatever. something fun, though!

after the prayers and the songs, we walk towards the back of the church, near a statue of jesus. it is there where we each light a candle, and someone says a prayer for the group. usually we pray for the daddies and for the grandparents. it is very sweet.

after all of this we head back to the parochiehuis. (what is the english word for this? i have forgotten it entirely! it's the house where the priest lives, and it's attached to the church. there are also a couple of offices in there too, a small kitchen, and i think there are a few nuns who live there. is there a word for this in english?) we have another cup of tea, the kids all have some juice and cookies, and i practice my conversational dutch. i admit i've been getting lazy about my dutch now that i know i only have to speak it for a few more weeks, but still, it's good to challenge myself so i do try to speak it whenever i can.

by 11:15 it's time to start packing up to go. i'm always sad to leave, but not as sad as gracie! she LOVES her friends and toys and cookies and songs and candles!

afterwards we normally swing by the grocery store and then go to the market for our mid-week fruit, veggies, chicken, eggs, bread, cheese, and the frequent bouquet of flowers. then we're usually home by about 12:30 and we make lunch (we're both STARVING at this point, even with all the cookies we ate at church!). i put the flowers in water, clean up lunch, and put a certain someone down for her much-needed nap! she's usually exhausted after playing so hard all morning long and it's never a struggle to get her to sleep on kleuterkerk days!


Valerie van de Flier said...

I know parochie is the Dutch word for parish, just don't know the correct name for the 'parish-house'...
Oh and 'kleuter' is officially kindergarten-age (though I'm never sure about ages in kindergarten in holland and the US, if that's the same...)

Anonymous said...

Amber, it is a great loss to the netherlands unitarian's that you leave us.

You will be missed white witch, blessed be.

Heidi Graczyk Damm said...

Rectory - is that the word you're looking for?