Kidlet joy

Today I had a front-row seat to joy – watching my kids.  After a week away, it was great simply to hang out together as a family (more on that later).  But its so often what they say that brings great gladness (or makes me stifle my laughter because it sounds so funny coming out of the mouth of a child – like Lily telling me about hurting her hand and how she was “screaming bloody murder.”   Yeah, I know, she learned it from me.)

Before heading to one friend’s art show tonight, we had dinner with other friends.  Driving to our gourmet destination (burger chain), Lily was talking about how much she loved her friend who we were going to dinner with, and Owen chimes in, “Yeah, I think they’re BFF’s” (that he didn’t learn from me).

On the way home, Betty was telling me about a growing wasp nest underneath the eaves near Lily’s bedroom window, and I hear Lily in the back seat asking, with great indignation, “Why did Jesus make wasps?  They’re totally in Satan’s camp.”

And then all day long today, I was asked the best question a dad can be asked: “When can we play Dad?”  So I took Owen and Lily to the playground, where I chased and tagged and swung like a monkey, and then simply delighted in watching their faces as they played.  One of their games had Lily perched on the bottom of the slide with Owen slipping down and taking Lily out, both of them a mangled pile on top of each other, hooting and hollering away – and every time Lily would say “Again – do it again.”

There’s something about joy that is young.  Not childish, but unsullied by a world-weary cynicism that ages one so quickly.  There’s a quote from G.K. Chesterton that I’ve always loved.  He’s commenting on God’s child-like nature, and joy seems to pulse throughout his words:

“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”

It’s that last line that always gets me – “for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”  I miss out on  joy because I’m jaded, so bored with all the ordinary splendor staring me in the face, so often unable to even spot it and revel in it.  But my children are teaching me about my Father and his tireless joy.

Tomorrow God is going to tell the sun to “do it again,” and if I’m given the gift of another day, I’ll have the chance, once again, to grow young like my eternal Father and choose joy.

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