The boys are next to me, pressed in tight. It's time for science and we're reading about elephants. We read about the muscles in their trunks. We learn how to distinguish an Asian elephant from an African elephant. We learn about elephants' strength and stamina and how they will walk for miles to find water. But what catches my heart, what slips into my thoughts, again and again, is how the elephant herd circles the young.
We studied penguins last week. Penguins form a circle of safety around their young, too.
It's like people. It's like the blessing of friends and family who circle close, who ring our family, who stand side by side and link armor around our kids.
The circle is a ring of prayer. "I pray for your family," a friend whispered once. "When I can't sleep. I pray for your boys, alphabetical order. Down the line. One by one." Last year, when one son was trapped underground in a cave, a wide web of prayer covered our family. And there are the prayers of those who know the daily, in-and-out, ups-and-down stuff. A sweet circle prayer - I'll forever be grateful for those who intercede for my children.
Thank you, Lord, for quiet whispers. For burdened hearts. Thank you for the prayers that hem my children in.
The circle is a ring of support. I've watched friends stretch high to embrace by big boys. Bend low to kiss tears from my little ones. There have been bandaged knees and broken hearts and the circle has been sweet salve. There are people my boys know they can run to, depend on. Friends and family that provide a strong extension of home.
Thank you, Lord, for those who are a support to my kids.
The ring is a circle of love. Not long ago I went on a cleaning rampage through a big boy's room. I tossed away a brown box that I didn't know contained a meaningful note from a long-distance but close-to-the-heart friend. My boy stood in the March cold, in the dark, and rooted through the trash until he retrieved the note. A note from a friend who has loved him for years.
Thank you, Lord, for those who love my children. For those who care deep. For those who are faithful. For those whose love stretches into my boys' lives.
The boys and I finish our book. There's another in the basket. But we'll save that for another day. I want to sit for a moment and hold my sons. I want to stretch my arms way around,
knowing we are a part of something bigger, something more - solid, strong, and sweet.