The Child Prophet: Remembering Joy
Sometimes when I walk my dogs during the afternoon, the neighborhood kids come out to pet them. Let me rephrase that: they pretty much chase us down yelling, “Giiiiiirraaaaafffeee!!!!!” (He is the favorite, of course.) Yesterday, as I walked, I heard tiny footsteps and labored breathing behind me. I turned around to see the sweetest little 3 year old, with eyes as big as saucers, breathing heavily from her pursuit of cute dogs. “Can I pet Giraffe?” she asked. How could I say no? As Giraffe received endless pets and hugs, this little girl and I carried on a decent little conversation. She wanted a Mickie Mouse birthday cake, paint, and white Play-Doh for her birthday which was a week from now. She was an artist, she informed me. I laughed. Of course she was, this free-willed 3 year old with a mound of messy curls on her head! How could she be anything else?
My next question: “Ok, Ms. Artist, what is your favorite color?”
I taught Pre-K music. I know the beautiful mind of most 3-4 year olds. It’s a standard question, really. Just like “What is your favorite toy?” or “What is your favorite thing to do at school?” (It’s usually snacks…) But this little girl was an artist.
“Well….” She paused in deep thought. “Red…”
“Oh Red! That’s a good co---“
“and lello…and orange, puuple, pink, gween, boo, white, black…”
I stood there with a big grin on my face and waited for her to finish.
“oh yeah, and gray,” she stated with complete confidence.
“Gray? Ok.” I chuckled, “Yeah, Gray? Sure. Wow, you really ARE an artist.” She nodded her head in agreement. “All the colors are pretty.”
I smiled to keep from crying. “You’re right. They are! Sometimes us adults forget.”
She nodded again, as if she knew us adults could be a little bit of a bore.
As we rounded the cul-de-sac, she skipped along with us. (and let me tell you, her skip game was on point.) She told me about how her and her friends play in the sprinkler, that she liked to walk barefoot in the grass, and most of all, how she liked to paint. After the other neighborhood kids gave Giraffe a hug, I told her we had to go home. She frowned, and skipped off towards her friends. I smiled a knowing smile at her parents as they watched from afar.
I was in my head the rest of the walk back home. It felt like the spirit sent me this precious gift of a little girl to remind me: remember joy, Laura!
There’s a story in the Bible about children. Matthew 18 tells us about a time the disciples asked Jesus, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” I mean, You can’t fault the disciples for asking stupid questions. They seemed to do that a lot. However, Jesus (this time) doesn’t come back with snark, he just simply tells them, “Unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Now let’s take a minute to let this settle in. The disciples wanted to know who was the best of the best in the spiritual world. Yet, children, in this patriarchal, power hungry, and violence filled world, had zero power at all! Yet, they had one thing: eyes to see! They hadn’t been hardened by the suffering, pain, and rejection of this world. They could see things clearly for what they are. They saw the magic of the world, the beauty of creation given to us by the Mother. They could revel in joy, skip without care, and see all the colors of the rainbow and call it good!
In his new book, THIS, Michael Gungor puts it like this:
How is it possible for a being who lives on a sparkling blue planet with penguins and palm trees and trampolines to be anything but constantly overwhelmed with gratitude, love, and laughter? Why do we let so much life pass us by because we are coasting through its miracles on autopilot looking for something other than what is right in front of us? And what is it we are looking for exactly? Something more interesting or wondrous than THIS? What could that possibly be? What do we think we would actually be satisfied with? Trees with blue leaves rather than green? Money? For what? Fame? For who? Power? To do what exactly? Power to breathe more air? Hear something other than sound?
The day before, the Mother gifted me (and collectively all of Denton county, TX) with a double rainbow. It’s vivid colors reminded me that no matter what was happening in my head, whatever doubts I was having about myself, if I looked inside, I would find what I needed. I don’t’ know why I need that lesson, continually, but I do. I forget. I cease to see the signs of joy and hope all around me. We become so obsessed with our own stories, our own problems, that we forget the joy of living. They say you only live once, but instagram wisdom said differently. You only die once. (Although, that’s also shaky philosophy if you believe in reincarnation.) You live everyday! So why aren’t we living in the fullness of joy, on this spinning planet that the forces of gravity keep us on, in the expanse that is this universe, with absolute giddiness?!
We have forgotten.
This time, the Spirit gifted me with the eyes of a child, to see that all the colors, even gray, were beautiful if seen through eyes of someone who hasn’t forgotten. The vividness of this creation is bountiful.
What is around you right now, friend, that you could see the beauty within, with the eyes and joy of a child?
I came home and decided I would walk (and skip!) with my bare feet in the grass.
The 3 year old prophet was correct.
It gave me boundless joy.
Spirit, thank you for your gifts. Let me have eyes to see your beauty and bounty all around me. Never let me forget that your joy is around every corner, sometimes I just have to chase it down. Let me be in wild pursuit of your joy in my life. Amen.
Photo by Senjuti Kundu