This past Sunday our church had a family worship service (what fun!). Some of the kids led a few worship songs (movements) up on the stage while littler kids (and me!) danced and sang in front of the stage. There's Joelle, leading in the middle!
As we worshipped, I was reminded of the beauty of unencumbered worship. I was reminded to come to Jesus as a child does, with wonder and joy ... and dance.
And I was reminded of the inspiration for my last novel, Shades of Morning. For those of you who missed it, here's the story of Andy and one Sunday morning of the beauty of worshipping like a child . . .
Q: Marlo, your newest novel, Shades of Morning, features a 15-year-old boy with Down syndrome. What inspired you to choose that particular disability?
In the middle of the third song, a noise came from the far side of the church. A loud noise. Strange, awkward, and off-key. Then, it grew louder. I furrowed my brow. Was that someone singing . . . badly?
I stood on tiptoes and peeked toward the sound. And there was Andy. His arms were raised, his eyes closed. And he was singing to his God for all he was worth. Andy, in his middle teens, with blond hair, thick glasses, and small ears. Andy, with Down syndrome and a grin on his face big enough for the angels to see. Andy, shout-singing with all his might through that radiant smile.
That moment changed me. It showed me that beauty is found in unexpected places, and that God’s gifts in our lives are often wrapped in awkward, off-key packages. I witnessed something beautiful, something wondrous that day, and it made me see that so often the hard things in life, the things we want to hide away, to forget, to cover up, can be transformed into things of beauty in the hands of God.
And that’s how Shades of Morning was born – in those moments while Andy worshipped and I was left breathless by the wonder of it.