It was the week before christmas and I had to visit my little friend, Desmond, one more time before winter break. I didn’t want to. I had been working hard with Desmond, at school and after school at his house, and still he was way behind in math and reading. And though I like the little guy, and I think he likes me too, he’s called me “little bitch” on a few occasions, responded to my requests with a resounding “No!” and recently, has been refusing to do any of his work. So, I dreaded going to his house on this crisp winter day. I wanted to go home, put on some tea and listen to jazz. It took some real will power to put my desires aside and head over to Desmond’s house.
By the time I arrived, I’d decided that I wouldn’t even try to do any real work with Desmond, I’d just tell him I was there to hang out. Of course, he was thrilled by this news and instead of reading a book or doing math problems, we began to work with his new Lego Jet set.
Oh my goodness! There were soooo many pieces. I couldn’t imagine that Desmond would sit still and concentrate enough for us to actually build this Lego jet. And I was right, he didn’t sit still, but he was fully engaged in what we were doing. His older brother joined the fun too and even dad came over to chat with us while we worked. It was incredible to have Desmond actually listening to me and cooperating with his brother. In fact, I’m sure we accomplished more “learning” putting together that jet, than we ever did trying to do math or reading worksheets. Legos were the teacher that day!
Obviously, I hadn’t planned to build a Lego jet with Desmond that afternoon. What I originally planned was to work on his weekly spelling words. I’d like to tell you that I just knew we’d learn more and have a better time together by building with Legos than doing homework, but in truth, we played with Legos because I didn’t want to struggle with Desmond that day. It wasn’t my masterful plan that led us to that great Lego learning experience; it was my weariness with Desmond and his obstinate ways.
On my way home from Desmond’s I was thinking about all this, and my mind wandered to God and church. So many folks think that God dwells in the church and that’s where we will always find Him. And this may be true for some. But for me, my most meaningful experiences with the divine always happen outside the church walls. I experience the divine in un-orthodox places like run-down apartment buildings. I experience the divine when I’m weary and losing hope. I experience the divine by playing Legos with a difficult little kid.
On that cold winter day, those Legos reminded me that learning doesn’t always look like a classroom, that life doesn’t always look like the one I’m living, and that the presence of God doesn’t always feel like a quiet, or a worship filled sanctuary. And most importantly, I was reminded that God holds me in his hands when I’ve thrown my own hands up in frustration.
Thank God for Legos!