Joy, happiness, excitement! This is how my babies would probably describe their afternoon activities. Dirty, messy, itchy would be my description. Some friends and neighbors were raking leaves, and of course the two E’s wanted to help. Now keep in mind, when we “help” with something it usually only adds to the work. So, we “helped” rake up a huge pile of leaves, and what do the children want to do but get a running start and jump. Their laughter was contagious, and their smiles were huge. Their eyes were bright as they giggled, ran, jumped and wrestled their way out of the pile. When my 5 year old looked up, eyes shining, and said, “Mom jump in with us”, I quickly declined. The thought of rolling around in leaves didn’t excite me in the least. I pictured bugs and spiders, and actually found myself wondering if perhaps this wasn’t a safe pastime for the kids at all. I quickly reminded myself that children have been jumping in leaves for hundreds of years so surely it would be okay. They continued jumping, and I continued watching.
All of this got me to thinking. Why don’t more adults jump in the leaves? Why don’t more adults do a lot of the things we once did that brought joy such as skipping down the road, throwing pebbles in the water, playing in the dirt, or laying in the grass imagining the clouds were various animals? When did these things become more of a nuisance or a silly time waster? When did they stop being fun? When did we determine that we must buy something, travel somewhere, or stare at a screen in order to feel happy? Maybe a better question is when did we stop finding joy in the simple things? When did we stop smiling as much, laughing as hard, and enjoying the gift of each day? Ultimately, when did we decide that working, cleaning, hustling and striving were the important events that make up a life?
Perhaps we wonder what others will think. Most children seem blessedly unaware of any need to impress (As evidenced by my daughter’s wardrobe choices recently. She can rock a black and white striped shirt and pink and red floral pants like nobody’s business!). Yes, children just play, imagine and enjoy life with no concern of looking silly or wondering if others would approve. Perhaps we are on a schedule and are so consumed with doing the “next” thing, that we forget to take time for the “present” thing. After all there is work to be done and groceries to be bought. There is always an endless pile of laundry and yard work, not to mention bills to pay, notes to write, gifts to buy. Who has time for these frivolous moments?
You know if the opportunity presents itself tomorrow, I’m still not sure I want to jump in the bug infested pile of leaves, but I do want to watch the clouds float by. I may not play in the mud, but I do want to stand outside, feel the breeze gently blowing, and watch the leaves slowly drift down to carpet the grass. I want to take time to enjoy the gift of this day. I want to enjoy the present moment instead of rushing to the next one. I want to take time to enjoy God. I just want to take time.
And maybe just maybe, my description of the day will be joy, happiness, excitement and ultimately….. peace.