The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Walking to the ocean

The girl was just 14 months old. Her aunt was carrying her from the one-bedroom apartment in the basement of the beach house across the sand to the ocean. She squirmed, wanting to get down and walk. So her aunt put her down on the sand. Her bare feet sank as the sand squished between her toes. She started to wobble back and forth, afraid to lift a foot.

So she plopped her diaper-padded bottom down and put her hands in the sand. It oozed between her little fingers, and her big eyes grew even bigger as she watched the sand in wonder. She giggled as she kept swatting her hands down on the sand.

Then the little girl tried to stand up and walk, but she kept falling—trying—falling. Soon she was slowly walking ... running ... stumbling ... standing ... and running again. And all the time she was laughing, crying, laughing.

Her aunt looked back, annoyed because her niece wasn’t keeping up on the way to a “good” spot near the water. Annoyed, until she realized that the girl was experiencing sand for the first time. Wow! She watched with delight now as her niece touched and, yes, even tasted the sand. She realized she’d completely forgotten her first celebration with sand. So she sat down next to the little girl, picked up some sand and let it run through her fingers too.

I was that aunt, back in June 1983. And the niece was Jennifer, my brother’s first child. I was in such a rush to get her to the ocean that I’d forgotten about the walk we needed to take to get there—and the newness of it for her. Isn’t that exactly how many of us live our faith journey? Sometimes we focus on the destination instead of the walk. Other times we forget what we’ve experienced on our path for so many years.

Children can teach us so much about our faith journey. It’s not about getting to the ocean ... or to any other there. It’s about questioning, touching, smelling, tasting, laughing, falling, crying, getting up again—or just sitting where you are and playing. It’s about walking with eyes wide in wonderment.

It’s about opening our hearts and minds to the experiences of God and Christ in our lives every day. It’s about trusting we will be safe, even when the ground isn’t firm and we are vulnerable, and knowing that Jesus loves us.

This week's front page features:

Take your faith with you: From Sunday into the rest of the week. (Photo at right.)

Awakened again: A teacher moves from empathy to prayer to gratitude.

Finally congruent: Lawyer hears God say, 'You're working for me now.'

A rocking witness: Office rocking chair invites spirit to work.

Also: WordAlone: ‘The Bible reads sinners.’

Also: Sexuality, mission are front-burner issues.

Also: Fire damages camp and retreat center.

Read these articles at our front page > > >

This week on our blog:

Sonia Solomonson writes about attending an ELCA celebration of large congregations.

Amber Leberman blogs about who our Web users are.

Julie Sevig (right) writes about tolling the bell for peace.

Check out our blog > > >

Your comments are welcome:

The July issue of The Lutheran (right) is now available online, and our Web site offers two ways for readers to respond.

One way is to leave a comment in our discussion forums. (Those who wish to comment no longer need to register for our site.)

If you want to comment on a specific article, readers are now invited to leave comments on individual articles. Simply scroll to the bottom of the article. Again, registration is not required.

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Introducing The Little Lutheran:

We at The Lutheran think it’s important to nurture the faith of the little ones in our midst. We developed The Little Lutheran for toddlers age 6 and younger to help them learn about God’s love for them and the world in which they live. We want them to know Jesus as friend and savior too.

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Share your evangelism tips:

Reader George C. Weirick challenged the staff of The Lutheran: "Tell us about programs that work or unusual or new evangelism methods."

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The staff reviews submissions and publishes the best as a regular item on the “Currents” pages.

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Norma Shaffer

Norma Shaffer

Posted at 5:29 pm (U.S. Eastern) 7/1/2007

 I   truly enjoy this article on the lutheran.  It awakens my memories as a small child.  I also heard the other day in a sermon that we are not a religion.  We are in a personal relationship with our Holy Father.  That also was a first for me.  I truly enjoy reading these articles.  Keep them coming,  and thank you so much.            Norma Shaffer

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February issue


Embracing diversity