Recently, I was told that I’m a loving person. That surprised me. I don’t think I’m abnormally loving. At least not worthy of the remark. I often struggle with love.
In An American Childhood, Annie Dillard writes: “Young children have no sense of wonder. They bewilder well, but few things surprise them. All of it is new to young children, after all, and equally gratuitous. Their parents pause at the unnecessary beauty of an ice storm coating the trees; the children look for something to throw. ”
The point: Childrens’ imaginations have far higher expectations than ours. They are expecting beauty. Grace is normal. For children, extravagance is a given. Sometimes it’s almost as if my son Joseph (5) wants to grab me by the face and say “Daddy, of course pigs can fly,” or “haven’t you ever seen a polka-dotted unicorn with propellers? What’s the matter with you?” Excellent question.
I’m wondering if it’s the same thing in the way with church.
Here’s the question (and I think Annie Dillard’s point too): Is the reality that we’re so quick to affirm the nobility of normal acts of love indicative of the fact that we have lost our sense of childlike expectancy? Instead, what if our churches were so childlike that love, joy, peace, etc. were all “equally gratuitous?” What if love didn’t surprise us? Maybe our imaginations for the once-alluring bride of Christ have been so drastically tamed that she has become predictably common (shockingly un-shocking).
She is beautiful – make no mistake – but not surprisingly. She’s always beautiful. And we should expect her to be so. But in our cynicism, we have lost our ability to see it. Perhaps our wonderment is a sign that we’ve fallen out of love.
“for we have sinned and grown old – and our Father is younger than we.” – Chesterton