I was standing near our kitchen window, looking out toward the street. Two women were standing on the sidewalk in front of our house, staring down at something on the ground. The younger of the two had her cellphone out, trying to take a picture. I couldn’t see what they were looking at; it was hidden behind some of our flowering plants. Curious, I kept watching.
Various thoughts went through my head. What are they doing? Walking a dog? Is the dog taking a dump in our front yard? Are they going to clean it up? But wait — if that’s what’s happening, why is that woman taking a picture? That can’t be it…
The women took a couple of steps further up the street, stopped, and looked down again. This happened repeatedly until I finally caught sight of the object of their interest. They were keeping a close eye on a tiny toddler walking on wobbly little legs. He would totter a few steps and then stop, squatting down to inspect something that caught his eye: a flower, a twig, a bug. Mom (or so I surmised) was the one taking pictures, while Grandma made sure nothing unsanitary went into Junior’s mouth.
Seeing that little boy made me wonder about myself, about growing up: when did the world stop being so fascinating? To that toddler, our sidewalk was a world of adventure; to me, it’s just something to sweep.
The words of Jesus came to mind:
People were bringing children to Jesus so that he would bless them. But the disciples scolded them. When Jesus saw this, he grew angry and said to them, “Allow the children to come to me. Don’t forbid them, because God’s kingdom belongs to people like these children. I assure you that whoever doesn’t welcome God’s kingdom like a child will never enter it.” Then he hugged the children and blessed them. (Mark 10:13-16, CEB)
With adulthood comes knowledge and power, and with it, a concern for one’s own self-importance. The disciples probably thought their Master to be above blessing children and tried to keep the parents from bothering him. Jesus quickly and sternly corrected them, then smiled as he hugged the children to him.
“Like a child.” Jesus doesn’t explain exactly what he means. But that’s probably just as well. If he gave an explanation, we would approach it like knowledgeable adults — analyze it, dissect it, turn it into a constructive life principle we could use to fine-tune our spirituality and feel better about our progress in the Christian life.
Certainly, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with using the intellect God has given us. But have we lost our sense of adventure? Does the gospel of God’s kingdom still evoke wonderment in us, or do we take it for granted as something we already know and turn our attention to the details of life management?
Creation is a gift for endless exploration, and behind every human life is a fascinating story.
3 thoughts on “Like a child”
For some time I’ve wondered what Jesus said as a blessing to these children. Would he have quoted the Aaronic traditional prayer? Probably not, considering the wealth of good wishes in his heart to choose from. “May you know the Father well, now and even more as you grow.” Then a different one for each kid!!! “May you be a big help to your mom this week, with lots of smiles for her.” Meditating on this scene makes me think of how I can bless my grandkids too.
I’m helped to keep this sense of wonder by close inspection of new plants, flowers, seeds, leaves, bird and other animal colorations, weird dog hybrids, the beauty of lights and color, of life, found in places that nobody sees nor expects (deepest ocean, inside of rocks) and all sorts of other things in creation. Things man did not/can not make. Throw away splendor! May we all find such serendipities!
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