By Roger Temme
Interim Director of Community Engagement
I attended my second Bedtime Story Brigade last month at the Salvation Army. At my first one the month before, we had about seven very committed volunteers reading stories, setting up the room, coloring pictures, putting out treats, helping the children pick out books, and making them feel very welcome.
Last month, because of vestry meetings, new university classes, illness, travel, and various other reasons, it was just Connie and myself. I will admit, I was anxious as all get-up during the day about the possibility of reading a story. Thanks to my friend at Bookspring, I found a great book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. While I waited in the lobby for Connie to arrive, the Rev. Katie Wright happened on by and said an encouraging word. Travis, who was working the front desk, gave me and Connie an uplifting blessing as we left. He said he believed in us. As Connie discovered while we walked to the Salvation Army, I don’t have children, nieces, or nephews. I have not ministered to children since I was a young priest, like a hundred years ago (okay, slight exaggeration). I have never read a bedtime story to anyone, except myself.
But I realized I had nothing to fear, for Connie was there. She gathered the children, found ways to get them quiet, and had one of the older children read the story. She maintained order while I helped set things up, arranged chairs, and spread out books. Connie guided the children to the tables for coloring pictures. I poured milk. Connie checked on the progress of the colored pictures, knowing what to say to each child. I poured more milk. Connie had the children go in orderly fashion to pick out a book to take with them. To my surprise, while I was passing out milk, one of the little girls approached me and asked what color I thought she should use for part of her butterfly. I was speechless (actually, I wasn’t). I was honored.
At the end, Connie got the children in single file, and off they went to bed, having learned about new life in caterpillars becoming butterflies and a crucified man becoming the risen Lord. Connie was outstanding, and I felt blessed to be her milkman.
After saying good night to Connie at St. David’s parking garage, I walked into the lobby. Shiloh, our wonderful Bedtime Story Brigade leader, was anxiously waiting to see how it went. All I could say to the completed evening was “Thanks be to God.” I went home and had a beverage; needless to say, it wasn’t milk.
Please consider putting Wednesday, April 13, on your calendar and meet some beloved children of God. They might just ask you what color they should choose for their picture. You will be blessed.