“The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.” —Isaiah 11:6.
There are so many stories in the Bible about the wisdom and leadership of children and young people. A young boy leads Saul to Samuel (1 Samuel 9). Baby Moses’ sister Miriam keeps watch over him until Pharaoh’s daughter finds him and suggests a “nurse” for him (Exodus 2:1-10). A young captured Israelite girl tells Naaman’s wife about Elisha, who can cure his leprosy (2 Kings 5). In the Gospel of John, Andrew brings a young boy with five barley loaves and two small fish to Jesus to feed five thousand people (John 6:1-14). I know there are more stories. Help me remember them.
As a physician for children, and now a grandmother, the importance of children has daily become so evident to me. Children teach me about joy. They model awareness. They show me how to live in the moment. Their connection to the sacred seems to be on a shorter string than mine.
As a parent, I was so worried about raising my children “right” that I often missed their wisdom as they were growing up. I do remember one time I listened to my young daughter and stopped my busy work to go outside to see the rainbows in our lawn sprinkler—after she came running in to tell me about all the rainbows outside.
My grandchildren are growing up too fast. Our oldest is now in her second year of college. I do not want to miss a second I might have with any of them.
I also loved being a part of the Cathedral School when I was at Trinity Cathedral. I am now assigned as a deacon to St. Mark’s, where there is a Day School. I cherish every opportunity I can get to spend time with these preschoolers. I love the way they fold their tiny hands and kneel to pray in chapel. Sometimes their heads are bowed. Sometimes they look up with wonder, seeking to “get” what this new adventure is all about. They teach me more each day about God and God’s love than most of the books on my bookshelf, as they share their connection to God.
So when people come to me for spiritual direction, I always recommend spending time with children, especially one on one, to learn more about God’s love. Barbara Brown Taylor suggests getting down on the floor with them. I can no longer do that; but I can still sit and listen to their stories and share meals with them and throw kisses and give hugs. I also love to watch movies with them and remind them every time I see them that we love them and they are beautiful inside and out.