“Every night, all of the children in my country dream of becoming me. Each night, I dream of becoming a child.” (A preacher attributed this quote to a famous soccer player. In my research, I could not verify the source.)
As I write this article, I am in San Diego visiting my only grandchild, Elijah. In a few days, he will celebrate his third birthday. He lives in a wonderful world – a world that is filled with new adventures and intrigue. A world exemplified by discovery and awe. A world where most of his day is spent in laughter, dancing, singing and mimicking sound effects he hears in action movies.
Elijah has never met a stranger. The neighbor’s dog is a major character in his world. His world is free from political and racial strife. He has no economic concerns. He does not worry about his future or lament over missed opportunities.
Jesus once preached, “Unless you (adults) become as a little child, you shall not enter into the Kingdom of God.” Jesus was encouraging adults to revert to their innocent stage of life.
Not only do children live in wonderful worlds, most are incredible people. Most children easily love others, forgive wrongs, are non-judgmental and are not influenced by status.
Children are not sinless. They can be selfish and insensitive, but they do this with a pure heart. They have no desire to hurt others.
When I was ordained, the bishop prayed that I would return to the state of innocence. For the record, I am still waiting on that prayer to be answered. However, the pandemic and spending time with my grandson have offered me an opportunity to reevaluate and reprioritize life.
There is another verse in the Bible that speaks about children. Isaiah 11:6 states, “And a little child shall lead them.”
Sheltering in place for a year has awakened the child inside many of us. After exhausting all of the pandemic “must watch” movies, we feel the call to be creative, adventurous and inquisitive. We are placing a higher value on relating with others and the human touch.
We have devalued work purely for the sake of work.
Some of us are learning how to play again. Many of us have a new sense of time. Others are making time for hobbies, writing and laughter.
Children can serve as our leaders in the arena of enjoying and experiencing life at its fullest. They can help us release our inhibitions. They can open us up to the joy of living. They can remind us of the importance of learning, discovery and play.
The Rev. Dr. Jon R. Black is senior pastor at Campbell Chapel A.M.E. Church in Bluffton.