“Children are not only innocent and curious but also optimistic and joyful and essentially happy. They are, in short, everything adults wish they could be.”
Jean and I have a 16-month-old daughter named Adeline. She has special needs which require special attention. Though caring for her has been difficult at times, she is a unique blessing to our family. Being someone who is used to being on the move, having Adeline in my life has caused me to learn how to slow down…substantially.
Though I may not do it perfectly, when I am present, I have noted something in Adeline that is true of other children as well. She has an insatiable sense of wonder. Everything takes a little longer with Adeline, but her capacity to remain focused on a single toy, book, or piece of food is refreshing. In an age of being bombarded with more distractions and stimuli than we know what to do with, I find myself desiring the wonder-filled curiosity that my daughter exhibits in everything she does.
Perhaps that is why Jesus described greatness in the Kingdom with the following statement: “And calling to Him a child, He put him in the midst of them and said, 'Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.'” (Matthew 18:2-4 ESV)
The truth is, we would not naturally equate child-likeness with greatness. Jesus chose the comparison, which tells us there's something to learn from being child-like. To be a child is to be someone who does not take the world for granted and who is not jaded by the hurts of life, cynical, or closed-off to new discoveries. A child is dependent, hungry for knowledge and understanding, trusting and hopeful. A child is, above all, curious.
John Dewey, an American philosopher and educationalist, observed in the early 1900’s that curiosity was falling by the wayside. He said something I found interesting: “In a few people, intellectual curiosity is so insatiable that nothing will discourage it, but in most its edge is easily dulled and blunted...Some lose it in indifference or carelessness; others in a frivolous flippancy; many escape those evils only to become incased in a hard dogmatism which is equally fatal to the spirit of wonder.”
As we enter this third month of our year and make our way through the Lenten season, I wonder if we could choose to put down some distractions, activities, and entertainment to make room for our inner child to emerge. Lent is a season of giving something up for the purpose of preparing oneself for the gift of Easter. Who knows, perhaps we will discover something new in this season.
Perhaps we will rediscover our child-like curiosity.