Sickness has beset our home – that awful germ infested chaos of a toddler running around with a very runny nose. But its just like our daughter to have all the energy in the world, even when she’s sick. And I am not the kind of mother to keep her from the great outdoors just because she’s sick.
So out we went, to fill our lungs with that great fresh air of Los Angeles, and perhaps fill our souls with a little respite from the chaos of “normal” life.
My daughter loves the outdoors. Around 10 months old, we would say, “Arie, would you like to go outside?” and she would squeal and run to the door with great anticipation and excitement.
I’m grateful she does, because I too am an outdoors-kind-of-girl, and its hard to find enough of it in the crowded, congested city. But I want her to experience the full breadth of its glory, and in order to do that while living in the city, you must love it more than convenience and comfort. We’ll see if her love grows into that.
For now, her little bare feet patter along on the concrete path that encircles our courtyard of great green grass, and I begin to watch her explore the familiar land for new finds.
She toddles along, then stops in her tracks and bends down to touch the ground.
“What did you find?” I ask her, leaning down to make sure it is nothing harmful to swallow.
She’s squatting, little fingers touching, grasping, beholding. Then she looks up at me with those beautiful hazel eyes filled with wonder, and holds up her find. It is a pebble. She holds it up to me until I take it from her.
“A rock!” I exclaim with enthusiasm not forced.
For, you see, my daughter has taught me to see the glory in the hidden things. Small things, things I take for granted, things that have laid on that grass or dirt much longer than I lived here. A stone used to be something for someone else to make use of – perhaps to help keep the dirt from washing away in the rain. But it has no use to me and so I take no notice of it.
But to my daughter, it is glorious, this knobby, hard, colorless object laying patiently on the ground. It is like nothing else she has inside our home — her toys are colorful, soft to the touch, some make sounds when you move them. But this pebble is quiet, doesn’t wiggle or squirm when picked up. It is a blank slate of colorlessness, waiting for some creative fingers to bring life to its grayness. And yet it does not need the color to be beautiful, for a pink stone would not blend so artistically with the soft green grass and dark brown dirt surrounding it. It is unbreakably hard, but uniformly small – a sweet paradox of strength in weakness.
Her fingers wrap around it tightly as she stands up from her squat with a half-smile and moves on, taking her treasure with her on her journey.
But I have not moved on. For my daughter has taught me to see the glory in hidden things, and a wave of wonder is coming over me. For a moment, I feel like a child again, taken up in awe of the world around me, suddenly aware that glory is everywhere to be seen, and the youth we all secretly long to recover is attainable.
I have said before, and say again: our culture, in so many ways, is a context where children are inconvenient and often, an interruption to our pursuit of happiness. Yet, it is in the eyes of children that glory is hidden, and in the eyes of children, that the beauty of youth is preserved.
If it is youthful pleasure you want for yourself, have a child, and take the time out of your busy lives to let them remind you of what was lost and forgotten when you moved on to the “greater and better” things of adulthood. Take the time to become a child again.
For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.So they are without excuse. (Romans 1:19-20, ESV)