When I have something to say that I think will be too difficult for adults, I write it in a book for children. Children are excited by new ideas; they have not yet closed the doors and windows of their imaginations. Provided the story is good… nothing is too difficult for children.
― Madeleine L’Engle* (1918-2007)
A reflection by Christina Brennan Lee for October 1, 2023.
It’s October, already!
How the time flies whether we’re having fun, or, not. We, who are primarily engaged in full-on adulting, aware of economic, political, and perhaps health issues, and even the weather that faces us each day, may have lost some of the wonder of this gift of living as, of, and in God’s Creation.
In this month SsAM begins with the Blessings of the Animals, a new chance to let us begin to step a toe across the threshold of fun, smiles, outright laughter, and yes, wonder by putting on the eyes of a child. Pumpkin spice may not be the thrill of a lifetime for everyone, but children are busy thinking about Hallowe’en. While I admit to being of the camp that thinks 12-foot-tall skeletons in every yard is a toe too far, and a tad off the message that it precedes All Saints Day, I have to admire the creativity of some décor and home-made costumes.
October ushers in November for which we have multiple chances to give Thanksgiving, not just for being as overstuffed as a turkey and on football on one particular day! And then it’s Advent and of course, Christmas, at which time the sparkling eyes of children cause our older hearts to be overflowingly glowing.
And, of course, at SsAM, the Season of Creation begins in October and continues through November.
Let us again be as children to see and hear living as if every day was fresh and new amidst the significant contrasts of our lives with those of others near and far.
While the world, and some of our own lives, are in the depths of desolation from harsh realities, let us take a moment each and every day to see a bird in flight, an image in a cloud formation, watch puppies and kittens playing, and/or whatever brings us to a moment of joy, a giggle, and a breath of child-like amazement in seeing the same old things differently.
With a re-awakened spirit and understanding, find some children to ask for their ideas about how to help those in need in ways we adulting people might not have considered. Take a long slow deep breath now! And just awaken each day, stop at lunch, and before closing eyes at night, and remember that Life is a gift. That’s why we call it the present.
Dear Ruler of the Universe We Know, and All the Ones We Don’t ~
It’s amazing to watch children at play. They see the wonder, the color, the surprise, and have the imagination to find excitement in a beautifully creative understanding of life. They accept revelation, move boundaries, and effortlessly disentangle enigmas. They ask why a thousand times without caring how many times they get the same answer and never stop looking for another.
Oh, My Lord, when did my world become so limited, fixed, and absolute? How did I lose my curiosity and agree to be constrained by imposed and unexplored assumptions? Please help me find the child in me that my education, life experience, and trying to prove my worth to others has set aside. Open my eyes to possibilities, potential, insight, and a new experience of You. Let me learn how to play again and to expand my inner vision to rediscover delight, joy, laughter, and un-seriousness in my relationship with You. Grant me the gift to know now what I knew then and the non-sense to live it. Amen.
*Madeleine L’Engle was an author of many books and articles and, among other accolades, she was a Newberry Award winner for her junior novel A Wrinkle in Time. L’Engle was solidly and theologically Episcopalian, and later in life she was a “writer-in-residence” at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City where she is now buried. Because of some of her theological views such as universal salvation and a limit to divine punishment, many Christian libraries and bookstores refused to carry her books while at the same time she was criticized by secular reviewers as being “too religious.” On writing for children, she often said that children could understand very complex topics better than adults and she emphasized the importance of being childlike and not childish. I was inordinately blessed to have had an unexpected full hour alone with her when I worked for the University of the South. She was personable, down-to-earth, and as my grandmother would have said, “comfortable in her shoes.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Every week, Christina Brennan Lee writes the Prayers of the People we use in our worship services on Sundays. She also leads weekday prayer services and serves on the SsAM Vestry. Click here to see her People’s Prayers website.