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...and I hope that You help everyone in the world who needs you tonight ...and I hope that You help us sleep so good and have sweet dreams ...and I hope that we all have better days tomorrow ...and I hope that we have fun tomorrow ...and I hope that we have everything we need ...and I hope You make my friends play nice ...and I hope You give food to the people who don’t have food like we do ...and I hope that we have the funnest dreams tonight and that we’re not so tired for school ...and I hope...
Her little list continues to build for some time until I open my eyes and smile at her. She smiles back, “Okay, Amen.”
Chloe’s five and far more secure in God and tomorrow than I seemingly am in my strongest hour.
I doubt. She dreams. Her little mind still floats in fairy tales and forevermore where unicorns exist somewhere and so do dragons and elves and her mommy with God. The world that Chloe knows exists in parallel but very differently from mine. We wake up around the same time each morning. I read quietly about parenting or theology or creativity in order to understand more. She daydreams fuzzy eyed in twilight still moving from dream to day about good overcoming bad in some way.
Our expectations for the day are just as different, too. Mine, to just make it to the end and bring home all that I can as provider. Hers, to have fun and squeeze every second from another day given her. She trusts in goodness. Questions and conversation readily pour out of her as she lays her head down and resume the moment of her rising again.
For all she knows, she is limitless.
Some days I’m convinced that I learn much more from my young daughters than they do from me. I use words shaped in intellect, reason and experience, in an attempt to model how and who and what they should be while their language bends holy and hopeful, always. They don’t search for answers and solutions. Hope resolves all in their lives.
Even at the darkest, they were the first to speak of how our lives would be good again.
They get something that I’ve forgotten. Soon they will forget, too.
We loose childlike wonder and learn to sit up straight, intellectualize our questions and bow to time demanding more and less. Something sacred happens, or is lost, or maybe even stolen. We land, closer to the ground, feet planted in the dirt of earth and reason and forget how it feels to fly, our wings clipped by the thought that people don’t fly. We grow up and childlike faith is stolen by explanations and the independence of making our way in the world.
What I’m simply learning, yet steadily confounding me still, is that my children exist closer to God than I do. But I can explain Him better.
As far as Chloe’s concerned, God feeds the unicorns just as He gives us better days. One day, she will know that the world operates despite the absence of unicorns and that fairy tales are stories.
But what she must know and not lose is wonder.
I think a chief goal in parenting is preserving wonder, for it is the seedbed of hope, faith and trust persevering in a world standing apart defined by boundaries and limits. Our effort should be given less in drawing lines, boundaries not to be crossed, and more in drawing expansive circles for them to grow in. This is not to suggest that we blurry truth to an ambiguous something, but rather, expand and preserve wonder through their maturation.
My girls present some of the grandest, unfettered prayers I've ever heard. In simplicity, they live though each new day pushes harder against them. Explanations will be accepted.
Wonder can always be preserved though as I invite them to explore God and realize that life in each day is always a beginning, never an ending. There’s no need for me to rush them along into greater understanding.
For now, the unicorns still fly in Chloe’s world. And I love that they do.