Burning Our Regrets

Last week at church Piper burned her regrets from 2012. It was part of the Children’s Worship Service, which is one of my favorite things that our congregation does. One Sunday a month, in a space that’s all their own, the children come together to practice spirituality. The children light the candles. The children collect and give the offering. The children decide their own service projects. The children join hands and pray. The children recite their pledge to our community:

May we have eyes that see,

hearts that love and

hands that are willing to serve

Children squirm during the short service and it’s okay. Sometimes they switch seats and it’s okay. Sometimes they have urgent questions and it’s okay. They’re children. This is their service. I get to attend with Piper, but I’m only a visitor.

Because it’s the new year, the children decided that the service would center around new beginnings. And to begin anew sometimes you have to let go of the past. These kids are geniuses, aren’t they? We should stay out of their way and listen a little harder.

Each kid wrote a regret from 2012 on a piece of flash paper. It could be something they’d done or something that had happened to them that made them sad or something in our world that was regretful. I’m sure you can think of a few. Piper had no problem coming up with hers. On her tissue paper thin paper she wrote:


It’s happened to her. She’s done it a few times too. We all have. And sometimes it hurts. Whether we mean for it to or not. Piper regrets teasing and she doesn’t like when she’s teased.

Piper clutched her paper tight as she got in line with the rest of the children. One by one they burned their regrets in a large urn. The flash paper gave it a dramatic effect. When you toss your paper into the small flame, a momentarily flash of fire bursts. Piper thought it had PIZAZZ, her new favorite word.

Then they talked about forgiveness and letting go of injuries. Piper had one moment of teasing that particularly hurt that she’s been holding onto. She’s talked about it daily since it happened. But after burning TEASING, I haven’t heard her mention it. She’ve moved on. Kids can do that. They live in this moment. This one. Sure, there’s a birthday party at some bounce house this weekend, but when you don’t know the days of the week, the weekend means nothing. It’s so far away. It could be tomorrow. It could be never. It’s recess. Let’s go play. Let’s try not to tease while we’re out there. And forgive a lot more in 2013. I’m following Piper’s lead.

Piper Dharma

Your kids teach you things. If you listen. That’s what I’ve learned from Piper.

You should always put your toes in the water. Even if it’s cold. It’s thrilling and the iciness makes you squeal.

Take in the view. With your whole body. You might be able to reach up and touch the sky. At least you should try.

Be silly. And brave. Look yourself straight in the eye and be you.

Be patient. We’re all a work in progress.