Be like children
I'm aware that I haven't blogged for a while; I've been writing, but not blogging. Some months are like that, especially when the criteria for what makes a good blog post is a little...um...fuzzy. So here's something I prepared earlier - last week, in fact - which formed part of our worship yesterday at our 9am service. The theme was 'children' - I thought it would be good to have a 5-minute meditation on what it means to be a child, from age 0 to 18. And of course, the sub-text is - what did Jesus mean when he told us to receive the Kingdom like children?
(Oh - and yes - that is me. Nice romper suit, eh?)
Being a Child
The gaze of an infant is uncanny: all wobbly-headed, wide-eyed wonder. They stare at the shapes and colours around them, such a contrast to the watery darkness of their recent home, as they coalesce into familiarity. Faces fascinate: especially those beloved, as the child learns to link the ever-changing expressions to those voices heard and learned from within the womb.
This fascination continues into childhood. The toddler’s journey from A to B is never straightforward: it is punctuated by a hundred moments of astonishment – at a leaf, a slug, a stone, each requiring careful examination. They squat down in the mud to trace the patterns with a stick. They gaze at the shapes forming in the clouds; and are amazed at the capacity of the moon to follow them wherever they go. Sound is remarkable. They babble, booble, shout, scream. They begin to form the same sounds as their parents, and are satisfied to find that communication becomes more precise. Some words are more satisfying than others. ‘No!’ and ‘More!’, said emphatically, sends a thrill of self-assertiveness through every fibre of their being. Crying still gets results too, if done right – ending in comfort, in holding, in help. They are not embarrassed to ask.
Beyond home is exciting, and wondrous, and terrifying. They make sense of it all through stories. Cars become dragons; treat with caution. Strangers are wicked witches, until introduced properly. All food is suspect – the tale of the poison apple leaves its mark.
Each small triumph is celebrated, then quickly built upon. They crawl, then walk, then run, then leap, They write their name, the alphabet, a story. Sometimes learning becomes restrictive: at first they paint freely, wildly, covering the paper, ground and themselves with every colour in the palette. Later, patterns and figures emerge, and they realize their lack of technique: they become disheartened. They try harder, given the right teacher; or they give up.
They wander away from the rules and norms of home and school. They spend time on the naughty step; outside the head’s office; in their room. Each decision is costly, but strangely satisfying, as it brings them a sense of themselves. They know what they like; and what they don’t. They assert themselves, and their passions and talents start to shine. They try new things, love new people. Falling in love is exquisitely painful; an overwhelming agony of pleasure. Their friends are for life, closer than blood.
They become who they are to be: almost fully formed. Still with so much new to experience, but themselves, not copies of their parents but able to draw on the good
and the bad of all they have known and been taught. They see the world distinctly, see each complex problem and are able to prescribe its cure. They feel the weight of it, and care deeply. They are scathing of adults’ failure to solve anything, their apathy in the face of so much wrong.
They still find time to gaze at the heavens and find them extraordinary.