Over the Hill
stories about children, young and old, and what we can learn from them

I KNOW OF ONE surefire way to feel better whenever I feel sad.

In a divine and delightful fashion, my church teems with the most delicious babies on Sundays. Little munchkins falling forward, running amuck, crawling on people. Adults pass them around like sweet, sticky candy.

And I have a favorite. Baby Max. He tends to rock a faux hawk.

Typically, I can coax him out of another's arms by teasing, "Do you want to go to Daddy? Let's go find Daddy." Chubby arms stretch out in blessing, and I gleefully envelop him while taking a roundabout route through the pews.

I hold him close to smell his new hair, fascinated by this tiny human being entangled in my arms. He moves his head side to side to take in the sights, and I wonder how the world looks to him. Does he know what's coming? The gauntlet of growing up? The arbitrary sting of tragedy? I don't voice any of these questions. For now, I'm basking in the truth that he is loved. He is content. He is well.

My little trick with Max only works because I promise to take him to the ones he trusts the most. Even the little children in Jesus' time knew who that was as they drew near to Him. Being near Jesus felt like home.

Yet as I've grown and pieced together how to live in this world, my trust meandered elsewhere — to my abilities, my capacity, and my time. I find solace in my iCal to reassure me that there is a time for everything, or in my brain to power through any obstacle. I have faith in these, because I control them. I live belonging more to the world I see than to a kingdom I cannot.

Yet as I've grown and pieced together how to live in this world, my trust meandered elsewhere.

It's a thrill to hold Max because I get to hold someone so new. Max has an entire life ahead of him that excites me in a way I've lost for my own. Yet the reality that I'm called to live in is that I have an entire eternity ahead of me. But instead of excitement, I draw a blank and trust it's a vaguely good thing. Eternity starting now is difficult to look forward to and frankly exhausting when the demands of life right now confine my imagination.

I remember that I was once a child. I, too, radiated the same wonder of existing and an innocence of the box I was already thinking outside of.

Jesus hints that the little children walking amongst us carry a secret in their small overlooked ways and how they belong to a way of life. Perhaps Max is the one leading me back to my Father.

Eventually, the not-so-scenic course around church must end. Max spots his father's smile and bodily navigates me toward him by leaning in his direction. I can't compare. His father's eyes light up, and he embraces his son.

As we continue to grow, God willing, may we grow younger and ever search for the arms of our Father.

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