Monday, August 29, 2005

Life on a Stick

When I was little my mom used to take me to the pier pretty often. Not that we lived close to the beach, just close enough that the pier was one of those "What do you want to do today?" destinations. We'd walk all the way from one end to the other, stopping along the way to look at every trinket in the window. If I looked over the edge, I could see tiny surfers like dots in the water. It felt pretty close to magic to be walking right above where the waves were crashing.

Saturday afternoon I took my first trip to the pier as a parent, with my son. As Jon and I walked along pushing Isaiah in his stroller, I felt like everything had shrunk, like there wasn't much here to see. Cheese on a stick was just about the most magical thing I could find. That is, until I looked at Isaiah's face. His eyes were wide around as he tried to take in every image. I paused to think about what this must be like for him, all the colors, the voices, the music and the aroma of tasty treats. Suddenly, the magic was back.

I know why God said we should "become like little children" (Matthew 18:3). Kids are impressed by the smallest of things. They pay attention to details. They're not cynical, like adults. Children immediately recognize the beauty that is everywhere. Just sticking your tongue out to feel the wind is enough to spark wonder and amazement. The colors on the spinning kites create an entire rainbow fantasy world. Everything's bigger than life because everything's bigger than you, and it's exciting.

It's really easy to lose that excitement when you're stuck on the freeway or waiting in line at the market or on hold with customer service. But I bet if you just take a look around, wherever you are, in a quick second you can find something that will lift you out of the mundane. Like a spider on the ceiling or shivering leaves on a tree. And if you just can't escape that jaded trap, go buy yourself an ice cream cone. Make it two scoops, two different flavors. Say yes to whipped cream and a cherry. Let it drip just a little down your thumb. Forget the napkin, wipe your face with your hand. Savor every drop.

When you take that last crunchy bite, I dare you not so smile.

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