Sunday, December 19
My daughter Emma's first word was "book." I am not making that up. We read to her from the day she was born, and the love of the printed word has become part of her DNA. Some of my fondest memories are of sitting, with Emma, in a bookstore on Sunday afternoon with a stack (and I mean a BIG stack) of books by my side, trying not to lose my voice as I read them all to her, and of watching my wife Gaye sitting in a chair at home with the same size stack of library books and Emma hunkered down in her lap for an afternoon of reading. Many books were read over and over again, some simply worn out by love.
G. K. Chesterton, that prolific author and apologist for the Christian faith, whose life and writings spanned the decades surrounding the turn of the 20th century, once wrote:
Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again" and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.
My grandfather called me a "stick-in-the-mud" when I was a teenager. Of course, being a risk-averse introvert didn't help propel me into the exuberant and inquisitive play, learning and creativity of childhood and adolescence. Perhaps I was born a grown-up and God's desire for the trajectory of my life is the reverse direction of what WE think growing up involves.
And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."
Growing up in God's eyes involves the cultivation of joy and hope and faith, all qualities distilled to their purest form in the lives of children: joy in doing the same thing over and over again, hope that you'll get to do it again tomorrow, faith that those who provide those pleasures will be there tomorrow and the next day and the next. Perhaps I will know that I am grown up the way God intends when I can exult in the monotony of reading the same books over and over and over again to my grandchildren. In the meantime I pray to be opened up to the transforming power of the child whose advent we celebrate this season - the child who clearer than anyone came to show us how to grow up into the children God desires.
- Wyc Rountree