I once served a congregation that had a preschool attached to it that was administered by the church itself. Afternoons, I would often leave my office in order to spend time with the children; visiting them in the classrooms, the nursery, and on the playground. During fellowship after services many of them would seek me out.
I think God was trying to tell me that I needed to become more like the children in order to enter the kingdom, as it says in the gospel of Matthew. Burdened by many of the cares of adult life, I’d been losing touch with what it was like to be a child, unrestrained by the limitations we adults place on ourselves so that we no longer fully experience everything around us.
It reminds me of how, as a child on our family farm, I would walk from the barn to the house at night in the winter when it was snowing. I’d stand under the yard light and look upward and stare unblinking into the snowflakes as they came down through the blackness, those millions of ice crystals hurtling down from the sky before hitting the cold hard ground.
After a few moments it would begin to seem as though the snowflakes were stationary and it was I who was moving, streaking past them at incredible speed toward that which created them. I felt light and pure and everything made sense. I was lifted up and out of the illusion of this world. It was so familiar—that feeling of moving through space toward something.
I didn’t know exactly what it was. It didn’t matter. All I knew was that I was connected to something important, something larger than myself or anything here. I never even thought about it much. I took it for granted—being in touch with that thing. As a child I would also sometimes contemplate infinity. In my mind I’d go to the edge of the universe, imagine a brick wall and then place myself on the other side of it. I would keep doing that for as long as I could before being left breathless as I tried to make sense of what I had just experienced.
Oh, to be a child once more and again feel that sense of expansiveness and freedom; to not be troubled by the contradictions of reality or burdened by the cares of everyday life! I don’t recall when I stopped looking up at the snow or contemplating infinity. I’m grateful for the children for making me realize we don’t need to give all our attention and energy to the challenges of life. Those things will take care of themselves.
Like children, we should allow ourselves to be free of the constraints of knowledge and of our preconceived notions about the nature of reality, so that we can once again travel through space to the source of creation and to contemplate infinity.
Who knows, we might encounter not just God, but ourselves.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION OR DISCUSSION
- Try to remember a time during your childhood when you would contemplate infinity or in some other way test the boundaries of reality.
- Do you think you could as an adult do this?
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Matthew 19:13-15 (NRSV)
When little children were being brought to him in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples spoke sternly to those who brought them; but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” And he laid his hands on them and went on his way.