There's no telling what a 4 year old will remember from a year ago and what he'll forget. One day, he won't remember to wash his hands before he eats, but on another day, he'll remember something that happened last year. "I been here before!" he squealed once while looking through pictures of a family vacation.
The Living Last Supper. 9 year old Ben called to invite us, "We're the soldiers, Dad is Jesus. There's a dessert reception at the end. Can you come?"
On the stage the actors portrayed Jesus and his disciples on the night of the Last Supper. I missed quite a bit of the early dialog while I was concentrating on Isaac. At 4, he can forget his manners and blurt out without hesitation, "I gotta poop" or "Remember...when we watched....Resident Evil with Dad...and the zombies were..." you get the idea, I was watching for that look on his face that tells me "cup his face in your hands and direct his voice into your ear so he remembers to whisper."
As we watched the play unfold he went from totally disinterested drawing on a notepad, to hot and tired, and then to questioning. When Jesus and the disciples left the stage and the spotlight illuminated the window on the other side of the church he began to pay attention. Through the window (the real outside window to the courtyard) we watched Jesus walking to the Garden of Gethsemane and shortly after, the soldiers followed. At this point the church was completely dark and only the soloist's voice could be heard. Prime time for an soliloquy on legos or matchbox cars from Isaac, but nothing. A series of pictures appeared projected on the wall depicting the events that followed.
He asked me, "Who is on the cross? The devil?"
I whispered, "No, it's Jesus" He doesn't remember from last year. I have the privilege to teach the Easter story for the first time (again).
He looked at me puzzled, that is not the Jesus he remembered hearing about.
"He took our place, He died for you and me. But wait, there's a happy ending"
He watched some more.
The clanging from the balcony sent chills down his spine as we heard the nails being driven into Jesus' hands and feet.
He climbed into my lap and I saw a tear in his eye yet he remained reverent and silent, sensing the emotions in the room.
At that moment I was grateful to have an excuse to hold someone and gently rock back and forth. Raw emotion is hard to deal with.
"It's not happy." He whispered in my ear.
Then slowly the music changed, the heaviness lifted as songs of Jesus resurrected began.
For Isaac, the show was over, he was once more distracted, hot, and tired. This was the Jesus he remembered, the one he was comfortable with. He started talking about Indiana Jones and candy.
For me, the awe was still there, to witness the crucifixion through the eyes of a 4 year old that didn't remember "that part" was an awakening for me. I've read the words a thousand times but rarely let myself visualize the true suffering or convey it to my children.
Isaac was restless.
The happy ending...for my 4 year old was dessert.
For me, It's Easter. Maybe next year he'll understand a little more.