Oh no. A direct question deserving a response. What does he need to know? What do his parents want him to know? What is he really asking? Knowing this child does not know my political opinions, I ventured, “I was not crazy about either of the candidates, but, no ... I didn’t want Trump to win. But you know what, a lot of people that I love and respect voted for Trump and a lot of people that I love and respect voted for Hillary. The important thing is that we love and respect each other.”
Later, I thought back to Sunday before the election. Every week the kids pray by taking an old globe and spinning it. Wherever their finger lands, that’s where we pray for that day. Last week, it landed where it has never has before landed: Washington, D.C. The class erupted in borrowed opinions: “Trump’s gonna lose!” “Hillary is gonna lose!” “Trump will start a war!” “Hillary is crooked!” and so on. Now, I wondered, what do our children think now? What do they need now? So in front of the entire congregation, I dared to ask the kids. “Last week, where did we pray for?”
“What happened last week that made that such an interesting spot to pray for?”
“The election!” Then the expected chaos erupted: “Trump won!” “Trump shouldn’t have won!” “Hillary people are lighting stuff on fire!”
“How do you feel about all this?” I asked.
“Sad!” “Angry!” ”Happy!” “Afraid!” In the cacophony, a 4-year-old pulled my arm, “Ms. Susannah! It broke!”
“When we did our prayers with the world today, the world broke in half.”
“Is that true?” I asked, incredulously.
A chorus of “Yeahs!”
“Is that how it feels today too?” A smattering of nods.
“Okay,” I said, “Everyone raise your hand if you had opinions in this election? Adults, too,” I said, terrifying the adults in the room. “Okay, now keep your hand raised if there’s someone in this room you love and respect,” Hands stayed up. “Now keep it up if there is someone in this room you love and respect, whom you know had different opinions than you in this election,” Hands stayed raised. “Now, take your hands and put them together and pray with me: Dear God, we have lots of opinions. Help us to put the world back together by loving and respecting each other, even when we disagree ... even when the world feels broken. Amen.”
Later, we took the globe, snapped in half, and we took turns with pieces of tape. Now, the world is in one piece, held together by tape and by our taking turns. A sign below it reads: “Help us put the world back together by loving our neighbors. Amen.”