June 21, 2007
If the Shoe Fits . . .
In the summer at my church, we have what we call "side-by-side" worship on Sundays, meaning that, in the absence of Sunday school, children and adults of all ages worship together. But we don't just worship together; often children help lead the adults in worship. This past Sunday, a woman leading worship invited children to come up front to help her lead the rest of the congregation in hand motions as we sang. With a little coaxing, a number of children ran forward. But instead of running to the floor space that had been cleared for them, they ran right up on to the platform where she was standing. And, though the kids were at different ages and skill levels, it was clear for some of the songs that they had no idea what the hand motions were. But they tried to follow the lead of the woman the best they could, not minding (or even thinking about it, I'm sure), that you could tell they didn't know what they were doing.
It was, you might say, as beautiful as the day is long. Their authenticity and eagerness challenged my worship after a week of days that were long and full of me trying to make it look like I knew exactly what I was doing on every "song," every task and situation that came up in a day.
Watching children reminds me of the wonder that each day and each event hold. I'm always amazed at the trust children possess, at their delight, at the bigness of their imagination and the possibilities of what can happen in a day. In their eyes, pigs could fly, maybe, and sliced bread (especially with peanut butter and jelly) really is the best thing since, well, sliced bread.
But I'm also amazed by their authenticity, their un-self-consciousness and straightforwardness. They don't try to hide what they're feeling. They will cry over spilled milk if it makes them sad. What's more, they're highly inefficient. They'll never kill two birds with one stone because days are about discovery more than productivity. The tying of the shoes before going to the park and the walk to get to the park should be as leisurely as the walk in the park, because all are new opportunities to see new sights, learn new skills.
My carefree childhood days seem very long ago. And I'm not, of course, getting any younger. In fact, I'm trying to do my best to put up a good front as a "responsible, mature adult," one who is efficient at work, pays her bills on time, serves in ministry, knows how to cook more than macaroni and cheese, gets her oil changed regularly and would never cry over something as trivial as spilled milk because she knows she can go to the fridge and pour another glass (even though she'll have to clean up the mess herself).
One of my goals this summer is to become more like a child. And maybe that points to how far I have to go to get there, the fact that I've made it a Goal. Maybe it can't be a goal. I suspect it starts with something as simple as slowing down to notice a few more details, and wonder about them. Maybe it comes with asking more questions. Maybe it happens by admitting as often as it happens that I don't have a clue what I'm doing.
I like to believe that, even though we lose so many of our childlike qualities--like wonder and imagination and delight--they are still in us, innate in us, part of the image of God we're created in. I imagine that, before they sinned, Adam and Eve were extraordinarily childlike in the way they viewed the world. I think those pieces still exist in us, and can be brought out if we're intentional and willing to be humble enough to learn. Christ, in fact, calls us to come to him as little children, so we must still be able to somehow retain and live out the wonderful qualities children possess, even as adults. I think living out those qualities again is part of becoming more like Christ, part of us fulfilling his image in us.
And, if the shoe fits--take your time tying the laces, and marvel that you know how to do it.