My 4-year-old grandson and I spend a good part of the morning scanning the partially-frozen backyard creek for crocodiles. Nose pressed to a 2nd-story window, he yells each time another chunk of ice floats under the bridge and flows slowly downstream. There’s another one, Nana! This one’s a baby!
Actually, they do look like crocodiles from this height. I almost believe it myself. I ask him where all the crocs are headed and he tells me, to a birthday party, where they’ll all wear hats and get presents. What else would crocodiles have to do on a frigid Ohio morning?
When my three grand-girls visit the treehouse, their first task is always to check the contents of a fairy box that hangs low in a hidden corner of the kitchen, The fairies who live in the wood across the bridge leave all manner of goodies and what-nots behind in this tiny wooden cabinet – always something for each grand, always in preferred colors. Not one of them ever questions this ritual. Fairies are expected.
I envy children. For them, the supernatural is a given – a looked-for, everyday occurrence. Of course Santa visits billions of houses on earth in one night. Certainly reindeer fly and fairies dance in the moonlit wood and crocodiles wear party hats. Why not? Surely a snake can talk and a boy can kill a mean giant with a stone and words can stop a storm. They dare to believe that life is more than what they can see with the natural eye. They don’t overthink it because they can’t. Yet.
I believe we are born into, and born for, a much bigger world – a world where anything is possible. As we outgrow childhood, our world shrivels, shrinking back to the confines of its natural borders. We pack our faith away with beloved toys and tattered blankies even as we pack our brains to the brim with known facts and figures – leaving room only for doubt. Sometimes we press our noses to the glass of another world we barely remember, barely believe in – but mostly, we trudge past, settling for shadows of the real.
When Jesus said unless you change and become like children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven, he was talking about starting over. Rebirth gives us not only a fresh start and a clean slate, but also the chance to learn to see again – to remember who we are born and re-born to be, to dare to believe the impossible, to live an extraordinary adventure, to think broadly, deeply and ask questions without fear.
As I think my early morning ‘what if’ thoughts, I glance out the window and notice that the creek turned to solid ice during the night. Any minute now, we should see crocodiles in red rubber boots, parading past. I’ll look forward to it.