Have you ever had one of those days when everything is beautiful?
I think everyone longs for those moments in which the world, and all its possiblities, appears fresh and new. Although we are already well into first semester here at APU, for you freshmen, this is still just the beginning of your journey here, a journey that is sure to be full of new experiences and excitement. I remember first pulling into the APU parking lot on move-in day last year, my car bursting at the seams with suitcases, boxes, and pillows, and having absolutely no idea what the next year would bring. I was somewhat fearful, but nevertheless thrilled to see what I would encounter.
Even in a place like APU, however, it is easy to slip out of this initial excitement and trod down into a steady routine in which those moments of exhiliration become fewer and farther between. This is where I meet you now: in that least exotic of places–the middle–halfway through this semester and immersed in the routine of classes and college life.
For me, this semester has been the busiest of my life with school, work, different volunteer services, leadership positions, friends, and other events; however, even amidst all of these things, I cannot help but feel as though I am repeating the same things over and over again. While I am never bored, I become weary of doing things and often lose sight of simply being in those things, blinding myself to how God may be working in my various activities. It is in those times that I feel the need to have a “Calvin and Hobbes” moment.
Calvin, a six year-old boy, views the world with such vivid child-like imagination that he draws you in to join him on his adventures, to discover with him, to experience the novelty of the world. You and I live and see vicariously through him–we look beyond our “adult” vision for a moment and watch through the eyes of a child. Isn’t it funny how little kids are able to see things that you and I would normally miss? Isn’t it interesting that something that you have seen a million times, possibly something that bores or even irritates you, can be magical to them?
I had an experience like this the other day. Every Tuesday afternoon I babysit a little boy who, like Calvin, is able to create ridiculous scenarios and crazy games, and yet, in the middle of it all, say things that are effortlessly profound. This last week, it was pouring rain. As a life-long, southern California native, I have never experienced a deep connection with the rain, to say the least. Sure, there are times when I love the feeling of curling up in a cozy blanket, drinking hot chocolate, and watching the rain–all from the indoor comfort of my dry, heated home, of course–but last week, I was simply tired of its inconveniences. As a preventative measure, then, I came up with several ideas for indoor activities Sean and I could do–science experiments, an indoor scavenger hunt, crafts, board games etc. Apparently, however, I was thinking of all the wrong ideas.
Immediately after I picked Sean up from school, he told me, in great detail, his incredible idea for our afternoon together. (Lesson #1: Never try to make plans with or for a precocious six year-old; he will always create something much more exciting and imaginative than your baking soda and vinegar volcano experiment.) His idea was simple, and only had 5 basic requirements:
#1: Hose down the trampoline until it is soaking wet. It had been raining, so we had already achieved this goal.
#2: Cover the trampoline with a thick layer of dish soap.
#3: Spray more water onto the soapy trampoline to create a lather.
#4: Wear plastic bags over your feet so as to maximize slipping and sliding.
#5: Attack the babysitter at all costs.
After asking myself, “How the heck do you think of something like this?” I realized I had neither a change of clothes nor a way out of participating in this activity. Needless to say, after several hours of falling all over the trampoline in the rain with a slippery, soapy child leaping on top of me and rubbing suds in my face and hair, I was a mess. You probably could have washed your car with the amount of soap that was embedded in my jeans.
I write this with a purpose, though. After being outside for a short while, I made one final objection to this activity, as if I could somehow persuade him that my reasoning was correct. (Lesson #2: Reason means nothing to six year-olds.) Despite the obviousness and simplicity of his statement, his response caught me by surprise.
“Are you sure you don’t want to go inside now? It’s starting to rain pretty hard.”
“No way! The rain makes it so much more fun! Come on, Lindsay, jump higher.”
And he was right. By the end of this adventure, it seemed as though I was having even more fun jumping around than he was; but before it all began, I had been trying to prevent it from happening. I had attempted to plan activities that would limit our afternoon to the indoors, not even stopping to consider that the rain may have been more beautiful than I had thought. Looking through a child’s eyes, it suddenly became magical.
How often do I lose sight of the beauty in things that I think I have all figured out, things I have seen a million times? How easily do I lose that initial magic and excitement of something just for the sake of a routine? The middle is the hardest part of a journey, no matter what journey you are on, and those moments where the beauty of the world is extraordinarily evident are necessary to maintain perspective. To reverse, rethink, and move forward. To encourage. To see that the journey does not stop in the middle, but has a greater ending and a larger purpose. When was the last time this happened to you?
Re-open your eyes to see the world differently this week. View the things you do through the eyes of a child, of someone bursting with imagination and unaware of expectation. Pause and close your eyes and let them be opened to see the way God has weaved himself into the world. Seek after Jesus and in the process notice life again.