I pull into the parking lot of the local park, put the car in park, shut off the engine and sigh. Is this even worth it? I wonder as I listen to the stereo cries coming from the backseat. Should we have come to the park today? Should we just turn around and go home? My mind flashes back to home this morning. It was one of those days. Just your normal day of raising a three and one year old, but taxing nonetheless. The toddler was throwing tantrums because of, well, I don’t remember, and the baby had woke up covered in poop because she had worked her diaper off. I’m not complaining, it was just one of those mornings. I pause and ask my three-year-old, “Do you want to play at the park, baby?” “Yes,” she sniffs through tears. “Okay, let’s play,” I say as I drag myself out of the car.
I lean in to my toddler’s side of the car and ask if she needs a hug. She nods and we hug. I unbuckle both girls and tell my eldest she can go on ahead to the merry-go-round and we’ll meet her there. “Okay!” she shouts with delight and runs off. I smile as I watch her run with unfettered glee towards the merry-go-round and shake my head. I wish it was that easy for adults to shake off our woes. All it takes for a toddler is the sight of a merry-go-round.
We make it to the merry-go-round and I spin my girl around then jump on. A dog barks. I look up and see a cat clinging to a tree branch a look of fear in its eyes. My child squeals with delight. I turn my head to see my one-year-old laughing at us from the stroller. It’s a beautiful day at the park.
I turn my head to the sky in awe. The sun is shining through the leaves of the tree above me. I bask in its shade as I admire the sparkle of the recent rain drops on the mossy bench. I smile. What delight, what uninhibited delight coming from my children.
I thought what fun it would be to have such joy at such a little thing. Got me to thinking how much children are like Adam and Eve before the fruit, unaware of the knowledge of good and evil, innocent to the dangers of this world, knowing only the love in their parent’s eyes. As we age, those evils begin to weigh us down, to give us pause. The fear creeps in and we laugh less and we rarely exhibit that level of unadulterated joy you see in a child.
I believe God wants us to express joy always. This is why He tells us to cast our burdens on Him. So that we may be light with the joy of a child. Fully enjoying life’s simple yet magical moments. Maybe when we go to the park, we are also supposed to let our woes be forgotten by the sight of swing sets and merry-go-rounds. To look past the rain-soaked bench and wet playground equipment, muddy tracks under the swings, a mess ensuing. Instead, to see the sun shining through the leaves, sparkling off the raindrops on the mossy bench. To see ingredients for mud pies and grass soup. A recipe for smiles, laughter and joy.
I believe God wants us to run in the fields, to jump on that swing set and twirl on the merry-go-round. He wants us to throw blades of grass in the air . . . just because we can. He wants us to smile at the dog barking at the cat in the tree. He wants us to be present, fully present in that moment. Because that moment is one of His great gifts to us, a moment that has never come before and will never come again. Moments of laughter and joy, of frolicking and of play. Moments spent in His great paradise on earth should we choose to embrace it. What amazing wonders in such a simple place. The wonder of a child’s hands reaching out to hold. A baby’s laugh imprinting on the soul.
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