I love to look at the world like a toddler. As a matter of fact, rather than being a “young-at-heart” senior, my incessant detailed examination of my world has caused some to liken me to a “very mature toddler!”
Have you experienced a toddler’s constant and minute observations? Closer proximity to many tiny things is, of course, one advantage of their super-inquisitiveness, but really, I wonder if they don’t see more in a few months than some of us do over several decades. The same flowers, feathers, and colorful nuances in a cats-eye marble– the same incredible detail they see – is right before us too, if we aren’t too busy scanning future’s horizon to see it.
What do you see?
My husband backtracked to ask me that very question, and to satisfy the curiosity of his wife aiming her camera toward the muddy and morning-frosted parking lot. In the mud and ice I saw, appropriately I thought, a feather. What do you see?
I recently climbed a hill near a mountain (I think anything under 2,000 feet is still just a hill) and looked over it imagining what a toddler might see. That imagination does three things for me:
1) The lower view removes jadedness – everything is viewed as a new observance, and in relation to my (smallness). I appreciate the grandeur in the details.
2) It stimulates questions – What is that? Why is that? Who are those people? What is so wonderful here that brings hundreds of people every day? Do those birds have names? Where does that hole between the trees and shrubs lead? Who made the path that leads to the hole? Will someone go with me if I step down there?
3) The experiment draws me closer to the creator of all these tantalizing things, and bringing God into the equation often greatly changes my perception of what I think I see.
Someone has said: “It is not enough for a gardener to love flowers; he must also hate weeds.” I find some of the weeds of natural plant life very beautiful. But some of those beautiful weeds are poisonous. Unchangeably so. There are many lessons of gardening the toddler questions – why the weeds, why the pruning? Why is there such a battle to produce healthy unspotted fruit? Our world today has the questions muddled, mixed up, and would tell us to love the weeds and the flowers the same, or that if we hate the weeds, we must also hate the flowers. (Don’t get me wrong – you, no matter who you are, are in this analogy, a flower and the weeds are anything that would hurt you, or stunt the fulfillment of your created purpose). My ears and my heart are weary of the word hate. It is hard having a toddler-heart in an adult world. A toddler heart wants to give my puppy whatever it wants, be it weeds, chicken bones, or chocolate – whatever will make it happy. But my adult heart knows those things will cause grave harm, and so I reject them despite the wistful begging chocolate brown eyes that say, “if you love me….”
Toddlers easily weep for hurting people, like John Bunyan’s character, Christian, and Hannah Hurnard’s character, Much Afraid, climbing to conquer real fears (and outrun imaginary fears like a stick which I thought was a snake or lizard). I pray that when people see my passion to route the world of the weeds, they will see only love and concern for them (the flowers). I pray too, that I would be cautious to sift that passion through prayer, producing gentle actions that would not in any way be seen as unaccepting or rejecting for I also have been and am susceptible to the weeds, and I can give no less than the same extravagant grace I have been given.
Many toddlers shyly hide in fear behind their assumptions. Most, though, in my experience, are friendly, meeting each new soul and seeing its place in God’s creation. They are matter-of-fact, yet open and caring. They are often completely trusting of God to take care of their own needs, accepting scriptures as what they are – God’s words to them.
As you go through the rest of this week I challenge you to look with the fresh gaze of a toddler, then listen to the Spirit asking you, “What do you see?” Just as God asked Samuel, Jeremiah, Amos, Zechariah and so many more (Hag 2:3, 1Sam 28:13, Jer. 1:11 and 13, Jer. 24:3, Amos 7:8 and 8:2 and Zech 4:2 and 5:2)
What do you see?