Faith Matters: Childhood’s awe takes us closer to God

By STEVE DAMON

Coordinator of Christian Education, United Church of Bernardston

Published: 07-14-2023 6:21 PM

I was driving, so I couldn’t see her countenance. Intuition tells me it was stoic. My lovely bride, Joyana, and I were discussing our lives together, as we trekked to the University of Vermont to fetch our son, Isaac, who was completing his last final exam of his freshman year. Joyana stumbled as she informed me that I was not “the man I met 23 years ago.” I was internally giggling at her uneasiness, as I took the loving observation as a compliment. She struggled to (with the deepest of love) tell me I had been “kinda stuffy.” I took the insight of my 2000 zeitgeist with all the intended love; it was spot on.

She had had her say. Now, I would explain to her why I was so happy – almost giddy – with her caring scrutiny. I was not the man she met, that “stuffy” guy who had recently completed his post-grad work, was serving on the state board of music educators, introducing himself to every big-wig in the realm of music education, and writing music education articles for worldwide publication. Something had changed. I had married her, and she had made me a father. When I became a father on August 21, 2004, I was determined to be the best father ever. Well, best human father ever. This would be done by following the ultimate Father, as His child.

I will not quote scripture in which Christ or his followers mention children, but there are many. Instead, I will succinctly say what those passages teach: be and love as children. Adults are concerned with bills, jobs, etc. This adult is concerned with those things, but I try to witness God and His world, as a child does. I goof around. I play on the jungle gym whenever I have recess duty. I have students who consider me “silly.” I live enthusiastically. In Greek, that would be ἐνθουσιασμός, meaning “inspired by [a] god’s essence.”

We know who is not in the tomb on Easter morning. Fiery tongues on Pentecost are expected. Christ was born in an inn’s shed. We know this stuff. Could you imagine how you would react if you were at the empty tomb, or heard your language at the Shavuot feast, or were visited by angels outside of Bethlehem on Christ’s birthday? I hope to think that this child of God would welcome the excitement with wonder, exhilaration, elation. I know I would welcome the excitement with confusion, but also – I hope – with a child’s animated enthusiasm, maybe looking a little silly.

Water to wine. Healing the sick. Walking on water. Driving away evil spirits. Feeding thousands. Bringing the dead to life. Calming the sea. Giving sight to the blind. I wonder how I would have reacted if I had been an eye witness. Would I have passed it off with the ennui of a “Jesus did it again” reply, wondering how he did that, like the stuffy, young man in 2000? Would I have stood there, mouth agape, giggling, quaking, like a child, wondering not how, but why He did that? How did He do that? He’s Christ. “Why?” is the more important question for me – and for any child. Why? Because He loves us. I hope I would have let Christ’s surprises surprise me.

Be silly. Sing. Dance. Wear the clothes that make you comfortable. Smile. Giggle. Build a sand castle and watch the tide smooth it back out. Be thankful. Make up a new game. Squish mud through your fingers. Remember locomotor motion doesn’t necessarily mean “walking.” Spin. Joke. Be playful. Blow bubbles in your milk. Play. Wander. Make art. Frolic. Create new words. Hang upside-down. Say the (appropriate) unexpected. Click your heels. Be a child.

It takes a lot of maturity to abandon what society thinks adulthood looks like, but childhood’s awe takes us closer to God. I know this 53-year-old often thinks and acts like an 8-year-old. I am fine with that, knowing Christ said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

I believe I have matured to childhood. I am a more relaxed, playful, joyful, thankful person. With Joyana’s “stuffy” remark, she was not at all shocked at my appropriate and unexpected response: “You mean like a chubby Teddy bear?” As I was driving, I don’t know if she rolled her eyes. She probably did, just as she would at a clever 8-year-old’s joke.

Article continues after...

Yesterday's Most Read Articles

‘Mental health shouldn’t be shamed’: Shelburne family advises to heed lost life as warning
Warmth, hospitality drive new Turners Falls brunch restaurant
Blessed Trinity poised to open Franklin County’s only Catholic preschool
Greenfield restaurant to be featured on America’s Best Restaurants
Real Estate Transactions: June 21, 2024
PHOTOS: Green River Festival gets underway after rain delay

United Church of Bernardston is a United Methodist Church/United Church of Christ federation. We are located at 58 Church St. Our worship services are Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m. at the church and on Facebook Live. We are a Reconciling Ministries Congregation (UMC classification) and Open and Affirming Church (UCC classification) who welcomes – invites, actually – all who continue in Christian growth. Many church members gather on a monthly basis for UCB Pub Talk, where we share in a meal and discuss Christian topics. To contact us, call 413-648-9306. We are online at unitedchurchofbernardston.org and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ucbernardston/.

]]>