There is a book that I got a few years ago called "Romancing your Child's Heart" by Monte Swan. One of my favorite parenting books that I've read. It talks a lot about the importance of letting kids experience nature, beauty, creativity and other things that give them a sense of wonder and awe of God. Things that connect the characteristics of God with the "made in his image" parts of us. I can't really explain the whole book so you'll just have to read it yourself :) Its really really good.
This little story is one of my all time favorites and its from this book
" The verdant green of a well tended soccer field stretched out before me in the Colorado summer sun. Gazing at he restful scene, I noticed a mud puddle near the side lines. A little boy sat in the middle of it, wiggling his barely visible toes in the chocolate water. Applying some secret logic that only little boys can understand, his shoes and socks lay at the edge of the pool, completely clean and dry, while the rest of his clothes were being soaked as he splashed and laughed his way to paradise.
A knowing smile crept across my face as I watched him. After a while, I realized that a woman was standing beside me, watching the boy too. I assumed she was his mother, but no hint of disapproval or reprimand clouded her face.
I turned and asked, "Who taught you how to romance your son's heart like this?"
She remained quiet for several moments, gazing out of the window. During this time, what I had hoped was a profound question lingered in the air and seemed to wither. But then she responded as if I had asked the most natural question in the world. "Ever since his little brother died from leukemia last year, I see things differently".
Her voice trailed off. A shadow of painful memories crossed her face. "I have learned the difference between things that matter and those that are incidental. He is with me and we love each other - that matters. A little dirt and water don't. He is just a little boy loving Gods creation in a way that makes God smile - in a state of innocent wonder. Who am I to rob them both of this pleasure?"
As she walked away, she implied with a whimsical shrug of her shoulders, "after all you can always wash a pair of jeans".
A temporal perspective would see dirt , germs, and inconvenience. This wise woman's viewpoint tells the larger story - that eternity intersects time when a little boy wonders that his toes can still wiggle even when he can't see his legs. From an eternal perspective , we see a child's fascination, curiosity, amazement, and breathless enchantment at a creation that has God's fingerprints and brush strokes all over it. "
"When children smell, touch, feel, hear, and see nature, it is as if it were creation's first morning. Eternity and the sense of wonder are connected because nature originated in the eternal creative heart of God. .....creation constantly shows us the divine fingerprint. It is written by God, showing us glimpses of the larger Story and eternal mystery. "
I love it! Maybe because without checking myself I would be the mom to scold, huff and whine about the laundry that I would now be doing. ( I'm not advocating children jumping in mud puddles every chance they get...there is a time and a place to step back and enjoy though.) When I first read this book I was sitting in the passenger seat of our truck and we were driving back home from our 6 month stay in Mexico. We were on our way home because our son was ill. We had been told by two specialists (one pediatric oncologist who came to volunteer at the orphanage we were working at... and another oncologist who we happened to run into on our way home and offered a free exam) that our 2 year old son Roman very likely had leukemia and that we should get him home quickly for some biopsies and more testing. That story hit me like a brick. When you face the things that really matter ....suddenly the line between the inconsequential things in life and the things of eternal value becomes very clear.
I know there is probably someone out there reading this already in a snit about me advocating kids doing what ever they want just because they want to. That's not at all what I'm saying. As a mom you know when your kid is doing something to be naughty or defiant...you know when something is not good for them or dangerous...and you know when to step in to put and end to their "fun" when it might hurt them, someone else...or your furniture :) But sometimes we need to ask ourselves as moms.. do I sometimes rob my kids (or even myself) pure innocent pleasure just because it seems inconvenient , too spontaneous, or just plain silly?
I once read that St. Bernard used to cover his eyes when passing by the beauty of the Alps and its lakes. I have read many stories of devout saints who in an attempt to gain favor from God deemed all frivolities and pleasures in life evil or a distraction. Some "devout" people still even dispute over things like dying clothes. Plainness is seen as Godly. God has been viewed by many as a solemn , stern faced kill joy. We have been the recipients of his grace but are now expected to earn it by our own piety, boredom and pitifulness. This is not the God I know. I know the God who created the majestic Alps and designed each wild flower to bloom just for his pleasure.
The God I know creates a sunset just so I can enjoy the beauty of it...just to display the beauty of the One who created it.
He didn't have to make flowers smell, he didn't have to make colour and beauty and music.
He did it to woo us to Himself. He did it out of a purely extravagant love for us.
He did it for the shear pleasure of watching His children enjoy it.
Just as our hearts swell and we grin ear to ear watching our child consume their first birthday cake.
I loved watching as my two year old discovered dandelions for the first time this spring...sheer wonder and intrigue. I love watching as he giggles and runs through the sprinkler...fully clothed....just pure innocent joy. We can learn a thing or two from a two year old I think :) I think we can also learn ,by watching our own kids enjoy life ,a little about how God feels about watching us enjoy it.
"God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also in trees,
and in the flowers and clouds and stars. " Martin Luther