Erik Quinn: The Heart of a Family: Imperfection

Sunday, December 14, 2008


I sat in my pew at church today and watched the little door open to reveal Erik and Marla coming in for the children's portion of the service. I took a deep breath and elbowed Brian in the arm. Erik's eyes were wide, and he scanned the people facing him. He's usually bigger than life to me, but out in the world without his hand nestled in mine, he looks incredibly small.

But I didn't cry.

The youth pastor held up a drab-colored plastic bowl for the children and explained how it was perfectly formed. That it had been molded that way in a factory somewhere and was ready to do what it was designed to do. That, in fact, there were a million bowls just like it that were designed to hold ice cream, or yogurt, or fruit. Perfectly.

He then held up a slightly asymmetrical clay bowl glazed in two different colors that a friend had made for him. The light coming from above reflected off its dimpled surface. He explained that the bowl had been intentionally made this way into a unique form and that, like this bowl, none of us is perfect. That each of us contain things that make us different. I looked at my fair-haired boy blinking in the bright lights, sitting on the edge of the group of children. I thought of the secret we keep shrouded in silence from the people surrounding us. The blank spots on chromosome seven where those missing genes should have adhered. The strange little secret that makes Erik incredibly different. The secret that is very slowly revealing itself, whether we are ready for it or not.

But I didn't cry.

The youth pastor pointed out the strange bump on his ear that wasn't considered normal but ended up being a family trait that he shared with his sister and his father. How this very flaw makes him special and confirms his place within his family.

How imperfection makes the world richer and more interesting.

How imperfection ends up being a gift if we dare to accept it.

The pastor asked the children to repeat a prayer celebrating each of them, imperfections, differences, and all, and then they were excused. Including Erik, who apparently successfully went to the last half of Sunday school. Perfectly.

And I didn't even cry.

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Blogger Michelle said...

That was beatuiful.
I cried.
Thank you.

3:23 AM  
Blogger Julie said...


11:17 AM  
Blogger LZ Blogger said...

Nancy ~ You are one STRONG woman! Strong enough to make us ALL CRY! And ya' know what else?... That pastor has it exactly RIGHT! God always has a plan even though we may not be able to see it from this side! I hope that the three of you guys have a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS! It sounds as though you've found a church family to celebrate with. ~ jb///

8:14 AM  
Blogger camille said...

I love your writing SO MUCH :)

10:52 AM  
Blogger Little Warrior's Mom said...

I'm crying!!!

3:39 PM  
Blogger Ava Jewel Leilani said...

And yes I am crying too!

8:06 PM  

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