We hosted our three grandkids for 10 days, while also holding down two jobs and I was reminded and reminded and reminded again to see the world through a child’s eyes. Pulled from the press of schedules and work by the hand of a child into laughter and play.
It took me back to a word I had received from God a couple years ago. That year, after Thanksgiving, we were flying home from Boise and had just risen above the clouds, when I heard:
“My dear Son,
You just looked out the window and saw the clouds beneath you and are surrounded by blue skies. See that? That’s a physical picture of this life. But the cloud cover can be individual and personal. The blue skies are only found in Me.
You need to remember – as oft as you can- in this life, there is always sunshine.
You’ve not given yourself freedom to play, to see a movie, to be available to paint. Play has been held at bay for you continue to believe you don’t deserve it. Son, play! Rest! Be! Remember what I’ve said. Return to my word. I will free you. I have battled for you. I love you.”
Play. Rest. Be. There is always sunshine.
So, with nearly eight-year-old granddaughter, Antonia, and her brothers, Theo, five and Gregory, 2.5, we all were given ample opportunity to play, to laugh, to go on adventures, and listen to Gregory’s same knock, knock jokes again and again. There is nothing to compare with this time.
On Sunday, their first weekend, our two daughters who live near us offered to take them all to the coast for the day. I tagged along in charge of snacks from my seat at the back of the van behind the three kids. We arrived to one of those perfect days, temperature in the high 60s and even the water temperature comfortable. Such temperatures are rare. Generally for us, the Pacific Ocean is in the 50s.
We played in the water, ran from and jumped over waves, splashed, built sand castles, and explored. At one point, feeling exhausted, I went back to our stuff while Grace and Gabri took the kids off hiking and I just laid in the sun for a blissful half an hour reading a great book. As they were hiking off, Antonia saw me, laying out on our blanket and said to her Aunt Grace, “Is Poppou just resting? What a waste!” Someday she will discover “play” can take many forms!
They did some school while with us. Antonia and Theo had school online and some homework components. But Theo was not connecting to online school as a kindergartener. Their mom, Susanna, seeing this before she left, was concerned. She decided to pull him from the online school, so Karen, drawing on her 20+ years of homeschool experience, picked up where his class had been. And we had a whole week of the letter “D”! It felt like old times. There was butcher paper on the wall with all kinds of words they had thought of beginning with the letter D. Theo came up on many occasions trying out words, “Does DDdddGiraffe start with D?” “How about Dddragon!” A picture of St. George fighting the dragon was soon created by him for the wall.
For Wednesday, Karen thought of Donuts. They start with D and spell FUN! So, using Pillsbury biscuit dough, the kind in a can which we never, normally buy, the kids made donuts in a pan that morning. You can imagine their delight. Thursday’s word was “Diameter” and Theo had a blast finding all kinds of circles, drawing them and measuring the diameter.
Hikes in the park, horseback riding, water fights, reading stories, praying together, an un-birthday party overnight with their aunties filled these days with so many adventures. Each event gave me ample opportunity for me to remember to play, to not take life nor this world’s season too seriously.
Before the grandkids left, Karen took them for a walk at a local nature park with a playground. Karen warned them the playground was there but not open yet. But when they arrived, there were kids playing on the equipment, the signs were down, and swings no longer chained. “Mommou,” shouted the kids from behind her, “Look! The playground is open!”
Karen had seen this already, and tears streamed down her cheeks she was so thankful! She has prayed consistently, daily since the playgrounds were closed in March for them to reopen.
“Can we play for 10 minutes?”
“Of course. Of course,” she said, climbing out of the car. They played for nearly two hours. It was so Ddddelightful.
Play. Rest. Be. There is always sunshine.
Those are not words often associated with this season. Instead, there is this seriousness alongside of fear. And close behind, comes blame. A stranger yelled across the street at a friend of ours who was just getting into his car after shopping, “You there! You, without the mask! You are responsible for the death of my daughter!” My friend was outside in a large parking lot. He had just removed his mask after leaving a store. He was so caught off guard by the anger, the real grief this stranger must be encountering, and the stranger’s need to find someone to blame, he didn’t know what to say in response. What was there to say?
Politically, people are so caught by their positions, supported by why they believe their positions are correct, they forget this: we are not voting for the Almighty.
A friend and I experienced this immense sense of grace just last week as we talked across the political divide. She shared how much anger, upset, and urgency she is feeling. “It is nearly spiritual push for people to believe as I do about the upcoming presidential race,” she told me. We spoke together about our differing viewpoints. This is rare today to be able to have a conversation without acrimony.
I believe people need to vote their conscience, but feel no need to convince anyone. We talked, laughed, and pondered what causes us to feel such intensity over different things. For me, I felt we were on such holy ground, as we sat outdoors under these massive evergreens, in the evening with an owl hooting nearby, whom she had named Handsome.
What might a child teach us in this season as adults fight it out? How might we see the world through a child’s eyes?
Antonia’s favorite thing to do was fix her Mommou’s breakfast, every day. She knew just what and how Mommou liked everything and did it. What if we took this hint from her to serve others instead of argue with them. Whatever their viewpoints, no matter if we agree or not, just serve.
Theo found great delight in humming tunes, literally, all. the. time. There was always a song in his heart. Many songs go on repeat until he does not even hear them any longer but we hear the melody hummed again and again. One day Karen said said, “No Imperial March from Star Wars today. Anything else is fine.” And he did this. So, what if we remembered to have a song in our hearts every day? And what if we kept that tune going to remind us there is always a reason to sing. There is always sunshine.
Gregory would take my hand the moment I came home, and say, “Come play with me, Poppou.” No one could resist such an invitation. Come play. Perhaps we might remember to do the same.
It’s simple: rest, be, play and remember, there is always sunshine. Children might remind us to serve, sing and play. Don’t you think this would be a great improvement over ways we are currently behaving?