By Eleanor Peters Clarke
With time, our vision becomes blurred by experience and we experience reduced appreciation for what is around us.
One of the greatest things about being a parent is how, through our children’s experiences we get the opportunity to live life again. Let me explain.
I love Christmas and the whole message that comes with the birth of Christ and what it would mean for human redemption. Through the years though, the festivities were not as appealing. They were based more on the completion of tasks, especially household cleaning, that were expected. Then came son number one and I was suddenly on the hunt for the biggest Christmas Tree. Singing Christmas Hymns took on new meaning as I suddenly found myself looking at it from Mary’s perspective: My son is here, what next? I would overlook my presents because it was so important to capture every reaction my son would have with his presents. Baffling as it was, I also delighted in how much more interest was shown to the box holding the item than to the actual item itself. I was truly present for the celebrations and enjoyed them.
As he grew, I looked at every experience and every interaction my son had with new lenses. In exchange, I gained a new appreciation for so many things that I took for granted. Sometimes I am even reminded of a song I was taught during First Communion classes, God’s Love is Real (for reference, song number 217 in the hymnal). When we look around, do we appreciate that everything that was created for us, was created because of His love for us? Whether the skies are blue or not, do we take the time to notice and appreciate, or are we too focused on completing our tasks?
It is so critical, for both our mental and spiritual strengthening to take time out and look at our existence through the eyes of a child. The innocence and simple joys that can be found are therapeutic in their ways. I also believe that it allows us the opportunity to get closer to God mentally. A young child is only demanding the basic things for survival. We are the ones (and by extension, the media) who believe that innocent children demand more. We have redefined what is needed for survival.
Looking at the world, through the eyes of a child will aid us in throwing off our baggage and truly appreciating this gift of life. Even if we get a “bad drive” while sleuthing through the puzzle that is the highway, we can be encircled by our peace from a happy memory or even simple peace. One of my most disturbing observations is how angry and aggressive we seem to be all the time. And I did say “we”. At those moments, I am reminded to get back to basics. To enjoy the simple things like how a laugh feels tingling throughout the body and the lightness of the mind that accompanies those tingles.
When a child giggles, it is a contagious thing. Let us take the time to look around us with the eyes of children so that we can appreciate the beauty that exists in this world and be reminded that God’s Love is Real.