11 July 2011

Wide-Eyed Wonder -- A Child's Playtime Teaches the Church

"Wide-Eyed Wonder"
My cat watches as I open
a birthday gift.
Photo by Matt Wynne
In the world of a child's playtime, there is no end to the joyful mysteries one can find inside an ordinary box, whether real or imagined.  The preschooler that I nanny often "picks" pretend flowers for me to smell and gives me plenty of imaginary tea and cookies every day.  This child loves to hold ordinary objects as an adult might do with a dazzling jewel or a precious piece of art.  Today a tiny beanbag was delicately handled with wide-eyed wonder.

"Look, Nanny," the child whispered with excited intensity, "it's a special present for you! Guess what's inside!" 

I held out my hands for the child to place the beanbag in, and immediately I was caught up in the fascinating imaginary play.  What could be inside, I wondered.  The package was so small and plain looking.  What could the child be imagining it was?

I turned the beanbag over in my hands and rotated it ever so slightly.  "Where did it come from, child?"

With a gasp and clapped hands, the child beamed proudly, "Oh, Nanny, don't you know? I made it for you!"

After a series of hushed whispers and excited giggles, I "unwrapped" one layer and then another layer, each one looking like the one before it, until suddenly the child declared that I had come to the end.  I think my eyes were as wide as those on the child. 

"What is it?" I asked.

"It's a beanbag! I made a game for you! Did you like it?!"

Suddenly we were both doubled over in laughter.  "I loved it, child!"  I surely did.  Here I was thinking that the beanbag would suddenly take on new properties and maybe fly away like a bird, or meow like a cat, or become a net to catch a fire-breathing monster!  The gifts this child had given me in the past often came with surprise endings.  Today, however, the delight came in the process of unwrapping.


Dear Lord,

Your Church has much to learn from children like this!  It's no wonder that You came to the earth as one.  Somehow, in the midst of our striving and chaotic tendencies, our wild imaginations and battles with real or perceived demons, You are able to inspire imagination and to cultivate excitement about the future.  Like this little child, Lord, You hold out Your hands and whisper with intensity, "Guess what?! I have something for you! Come and see!"

I pray, Lord, that our eyes will be fixed on You and dazzled by Your light and Your life just like zombies are with fireworks.  May we be drawn to You like a parched animal to water.  May our eyes be filled with child-like wonder as open to Your gift of new life. 

There is much joy yet to be discovered in the process of unwrapping the future that You have in store for us.  Awaken our senses to Your child-like delight, in Jesus' name, amen.

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