Teething, toys, and Jesus

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I was a new mom and wife and our parish’s youth group  had a religious goods sale set up after Masses one weekend before the sacrament rush of April/May.  I wanted to support the youth group as much as possible and I had never really had a crucifix to wear so I perused their necklaces.  I didn’t want something too flashy or big, not too fancy, but not too masculine either.  I finally settled on something and purchased it, not knowing at that point quite how much a part of my life that little thing would become. 

It has become part of my “uniform”.  I always have Jesus with me. Sometimes I will wear other jewelry, for an event (you know, like the movies with the hubs!) or something, but always I go back to my silver crucifix.  I wake up and put it on and don’t take it off  until bed at night.  I have worn it in labor with many children, often it’s in the very first pictures of my babies on my chest.  I have worn it at funerals, and baptisms.  Weddings and baby showers.  It has become part of the fabric of who I am. 

This Sunday it dawned on me just how much a part of my life it was, what a comfort and strength it has been for me.  My 8 mo little boy (our eighth child) had fallen asleep during Mass, while clutching my crucifix.  He had been chewing on it and playing with it for a good part of Mass before finally just grasping it while he drifted to sleep.  It struck me that for the past 19 years I have had babies doing something similar during Mass.  This crucifix has been chewed on and played with, held and kissed by eight children through the years.  It has been a first toy for all of my children.

I can’t even begin to express how beautiful it is to me that something so amazingly beautiful as an image of Our Savior, in His pain, suffering for our transgressions and loving us to the point of death, would be my child’s first toy as they sit on my lap, being wrapped in my arms, rocked and hummed to, prayers whispered into their ears as they pray with me in the darkness of an early morning feeding, or while waiting for the pediatrician at a check up, or while at Mass, with their first taste of what is the Source and Summit of our beautiful faith. 

The toddlers and young children will climb onto my lap and kiss Jesus, and then mommy.  The babies always grasp Jesus as soon as they are swiped up and into my arms.  I can think of no greater tool for teaching my children about Christ than the simple little crucifix I wear about my neck.  When they are old enough they ask who He is, and listen intently to the stories I tell. They are so familiar with the image and so comfortable with the knowledge that Christ is their Eternal Father, their Savior and their Love.

This has been the best toy and teething relief I could have ever imagined.  I don’t need bags full of soft toys or coloring books and crayons, my babies and young ones just need to be close enough to my heart to reach out and touch Christ. 

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