Down in my heart…
I’ve been thinking about writing about joy, but I have been avoiding it. At times I have trouble finding it. This Christmas season the words “Love, Peace and Joy” pop up in greeting cards and in stores, but they are hard to find in the news, in the day-to-day reality of war and injustice. The news is evidently not where I should look to find joy.
Lately I have been noticing little ones who readily embrace joy. I love doing science experiments with my kindergarten students. They see the outcomes of our experiments with wonder and unfettered joy. When a compostable Ziploc bag did not leak water after 30 pencils pierced it, my students erupted in loud applause. Another day when a ping pong ball floated above a hair blow dryer, the kids got to their feet and jumped up and down. I saw their reactions and couldn’t help but feel joy come over me. We go on nature walks and listen for birds, watch the ice form on the river, see little fairy houses nestled at the bottom of trees. Joy is easy to see when I look through their eyes.
There is a reason why Jesus came in the form of a baby amidst great trial and upheaval. When we are focused on a baby, we coo, smile, touch, kiss, hug, cuddle and try to meet all the baby’s needs. We focus on care and compassion, and we receive joy when we see the baby discover new things. There is a reason why Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” We are being challenged to be like little children and to welcome little children.
I get hugs every day at work. These hugs are unquestioning and unconditional. I sometimes offer hugs but more often, they are given to me, unqualified and in abundance. I wait for the child to let go first. I am asked genuine questions about life, the world, and how things work. I am entrusted with so much with these little ones in my care. And they show me how to see with curiosity, newness, and joy.
When I am feeling like the dusting of snow on the ground isn’t quite enough to get me in the Christmas spirit, or I can’t think of what I want on my Christmas list, I think about my students who, at their tables, burst into a song that we just learned that day. Joy isn’t hard to find when looking to kids. Joy is like the children playing hide and seek who cannot contain themselves: “I am HERE!” Joy is not so elusive. And if you ever wonder about heaven, I think kids are closer to understanding it than we realize.
Written by Jennifer Wallace