The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


'What sprinkler did you run through today?'

Ask an unexpected question and you'll connect in a new way

It’s coffee hour on a summer Sunday—that time after the worship service when we drink coffee or lemonade and chat about the weather, the week’s news or, if it’s memorable, the sermon. Whatever we’re talking about, we’re often aware of the self-conscious nudge to keep up appearances, to be OK whether we are ... or not. This is, after all, church. And what will “they” think?

The laughter of children drifts in from outside. One boy, maybe 6 years old, runs into the fellowship hall looking for his mother—his face is flush, his hair supercharged, his pants grass-stained. His mother hides her irritation with skill, but not without effort, “What on Earth?”

“I just needed to tell you I made a new friend,” the boy reports, and with a quick hug he’s out the door again. Sympathetic onlookers shake their heads, thankful that their days of dealing with such shenanigans are over. They return to their conversations. Most didn’t notice that one of their own, he long past 60, snuck out the back door to join the game of hide-and-seek on the church lawn.

Essayist Scott Russell Sanders observed: “For the enlightened few, the world is always lit” (A Private History of Awe, North Point Press, 2006; available from www.amazon.com). That’s another way of saying that the requirement for enlightenment is to live like a kid. Why?

Because children approach each day, not from the need to dominate or defeat or prove anything but from respect. They see God incognito in the everyday stuff of life because they have the freedom to receive. To live playfully. To squeal under the spell of simple pleasures.

The rest of this article is only available to subscribers.

text size:

this page: email | print

February issue


Embracing diversity