If I had to define Childhood

[Re-post from 2017. After today I will pause on posting until maybe Sunday as I have so many talks to write and give this week]

Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. — Matt. 18:3

After watching some home videos, all six of us sat around in a circle on the floor in the family room, late on a Saturday night, remembering life when the children were little. We laughed at the memories around the videos, and even remembered some stories we had long forgotten.

It. Was. Awesome.

One of our children said, “It makes me sad to think back, though. Life was so simple then, the world was so magical, enchanted. You know? Especially before social media. Everything seemed possible then. Then you get older and you see it’s not quite so simple. The real world doesn’t seem to get that so well. It’s just so cynical. I hate that.”

Later, after everyone had gone to bed, a had a good cry. I am just so pathetic. I wrote in my journal:

I remember when that old man approached me after I had given my first lecture on ‘wonder as a prerequisite to the act of faith.’ The man’s face was riven with furrows that seemed to have been cut by years of tears. And he had tears in his eyes as he spoke to me: “Life beat wonder out of me long ago, son. Thank you for restoring hope in me tonight that I could regain it. To have a second childhood, be born again, as you put it.”

If I had to define Childhood as a sacrament of the Kingdom, I might say: (1) The stage of life when the world teems with divine glory, guarded by innocence, brimming over with joy, play, wonder, awe, laughter, life lived in the moment beneath the eyes of a carefree Father. (2) The state of mind kindled by an imagination freshly minted in eternity, free to roam through the expansive meadows of possibility that awaken just over the brow of every horizon. (3) The state of immunity from cynicism. (4) The capacity to naturally see (and receive) all as brand new, as crisply fresh, as sheer gift, shot through with surges of spontaneous gratitude that inspire generosity and an embrace of what is as the only springboard into a hoped-for future of what can be.

I am certain — I felt a breeze from the East, enveloping us as we sat together on the floor; a zephyr descending (before its time) from the coming Kingdom, where

the wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze,
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
They will not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea. — Isaiah 11:6-9

9 comments on “If I had to define Childhood

  1. Nos. . . says:

    “THY WILL BE DONE” how dare anyone change a creation of the ALMIGHTY . . . I’ve tried ,it doesn’t turn out well . . .

  2. Nos says:

    Had the blessing of having our three sons at the house yesterday. ..as is usual stories of their youth growing up out in the country brought laughter to all gathered. . . Thank you LORD for three troublemakers, how they love each other and us so. . .

  3. Jennifer says:

    You know what struck me about this? And I’m not sure where I’m going with this or whether I think it’s good or bad, but just an observation: so much of growing up, maturation is about conforming your will, getting self-control, reigning in spontaneity, passion, excitement… We are supposed to learn how to be reserved and quietly composed; how to sit still and not fidget and keep quiet. And we’ve made that the image we’re trying to conform to!! Yes, we need to conform our wills and order our lives to something greater than our own whims, but that to which we owe our allegiance is God who is LOVE in all its wild, joyful, creative, life- and light- and fire-unleashing mystery — not God who is boring and staid. And yes, there’s room for structure and a plan in that but no wonder we adults are collectively a bunch of dull neo-Victorian spoilsports. Enough already!

  4. Nos says:

    “small scale ” j. IF your a dull ” neo. . . Victorian . . . sport spoiler” I’d like to see your opposition parent . . . Thomas tell the kids anytime they want to rock the proverbial boat to let me know I have a bunch of dead weight I will gladly supply them with . . . P.S. tell the pope I just picked up a load of brick if he’s up to it . . . fondly remembering + + +

    • Jennifer says:

      Lol, u know me too well, nos. But it’s truly something I battle with: worrying whether I’d be a better Christian if I could just act with better comportment. You know, if I was more quiet, genteel and lady-like rather than the loudmouth pinball of a mess I actually am. 🙂

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