Here I Am to Worship
Too many nights, coming downstairs from tucking-in, facing the remains of the day makes me sigh.
Tonight I got out my camera, then got down on my knees. And as I reshelved books, I realized I was singing: “Here I am to bow down/ Here I am to worship/ Here I am to say that You’re my God…”*
Joy has three older sisters and I can’t recall my heart pausing to worship over their messes.
The night started like this. Joy fed herself cheese pizza for dinner. She’s three and half and can finger-feed herself about as well as a 12 month old. (Worship. When we brought her home we didn’t know if she would ever be able to do more than swallow milk from a bottle we held for her.)
When she finished dinner, she looked as you imagine: too messy for a washcloth. Clean-up was a sink job. Joy, who loves water, was thrilled to zoom through the kitchen, arms out like Superman flying to the sink. “Wash up! Wash up!” she squealed in excitement.
“What do we wash with?” I asked as always at the sink. Joy was too busy laughing and splashing to reply. So I answered aloud on her behalf, as I usually do, “We wash with water! Water makes things clean.”
Washed up and dried off, Joy began to “talk.” This also is typical: she responds to sensory stimulation with chatter. She has done this since she was a baby and every once in a while, a word rises up like a bubble, surfacing close enough to articulated speech that I can guess the general subject under discussion. Tonight I heard she was enamoured with “water” (it made sense) but understood nothing else.
Until half way up the stairs for pajamas, an intelligible phrase bubbled up: “…Wash it clean, clean, clean,” Joy said.
I stopped mid-stair, the phrase brushing a distant memory. As if to help out, Joy repeated, “…Wash it clean, clean, clean!”
We looked at each other. My aging brain recalled a favorite book of Faith’s when she was Joy’s age, and dredged up the refrain. “Denzo! Denzo…”
Joy interrupted me to shout out “…Give me my yam!”
Astonished, I finished, “The yam that I grew on my mother’s farm!” The yam the River Denzo swept away from the boy who took it down to the water to wash it clean, clean, clean.
Joy laughed and laughed, a special peal of delight she bestows like a crown jewel on the rare occasion one of us decodes what she’s saying. (What she’s been saying all along with great expression in deep faith that some day the obtuse people around her will “get it.”)
Which brings me back to my knees worshipping amid spilled books.
I have never read Joy that folk story from the Caribbean. But I know Joy’s PCA, K., has. And Grandma probably has, too. These faithful women come into our home each week and invest hours counting caps into a milk jug that when tipped, quacks like a duck. They name by color the butterflies on the mobile Joy loves to blow into motion. They sing “Old MacDonald,” “The Wheels on the Bus,” “Row, Row,” and the Alphabet Song, skipping random letters to let Joy fill in the blank. They cozy on the couch with Joy in their lap and read a pile of books in the order she indicates (“This one or that one?” “That one!”) as many times through (“Again!”) as she wants.
So many times through, that my daughter who can barely speak has most of the books in circulation on our main floor memorized. So many times through, that given free time with shelves full of toys she can reach, Joy chooses to hike herself across the room, pulling with her forearms, to spend the last hour before bed propped on her elbows, taking books off the shelf one by one, turning the pages, reading aloud to herself while I accomplish lesser things like dishes and bibliography.
This mess is evidence of the capacity God has granted my little one who, at three and a half, still leaves drool on every page because she’s too engrossed in the story to remember to swallow.
It is one of the secrets of raising a developmentally delayed child that only the initiated –those blessed to be given such a gift –understand. Yes, they bring you to your knees over and over again.
But sometimes it is in worship.
“…Here I am to say that You’re my God./ You’re altogether lovely, altogether worthy./ Altogether wonderful to me.”
*”Here I Am to Worship” by Tim Hughes. Kingsway Music, 2000.