Practicing with Children

Mostly Present

farmersamby Jonathan Green

Being fully aware and present is hard enough for us grown folks, but when you’re four all bets are off.

In our homeschool devotions, first thing in the morning after reading our selected verses from the Bible, the boys (Adam and Samuel)  and I gather around the table and sort of riff off of one another, discussing the big imponderables and the “what ifs” of God and faith.  My intention in starting the day this way is really just to get them thinking and aware of God and spirituality in general.  Some days those sessions turn into odd “Q & A” forums, where queries like, “Does God have toenails?” or “Does God like to wear shorts?” get bandied about. Those are important questions.

Here lately, I’ve been ruminating on Greg Boyd’s wonderful little book, “Present Perfect.” I’ve been using its recurring question of “Are you awake?” as the driving theme in our devotions.  I usually derive great enjoyment in parsing down the loftier concepts in the book for my kids, usually.

One particular case in point where it just didn’t go according to plan occurred this past week.  My four year old, Samuel, is a force of nature, essentially. Untamed, unbridled.  He’s all over the place. As he should be, being four equals fun!  His big brother, Adam, our resident 8 year old theologian, asked Samuel where he thought God was at that precise moment.

Sam: “In my shoe?”

Adam: “No. He’s God.  Not a pebble. He’s with us.”

Sam: “Is He here right now?”

Adam: “Yup.”

Sam: “How about now?”

Adam: “Yes.”

Sam: “Now?”

Adam: “Yes!”

Of course this went on for a good while until I was able to steer the conversation back to a more reasonable discourse.  We talked about Jesus and who He was and His unwavering, always-present love for us, His children.  I’m pretty sure the awareness of God and practicing presence wasn’t fully realized by either of the boys that particular day. And that’s okay.  Other days, it all just seems to fall into place effortlessly.

On spring and summer days we take our devotions outside, enjoying the languid, humid Houston sun and thinking our thoughts after God.  Wrangling Sam to sit down and still anywhere, let alone outside, is an exercise-in-futility most days. He runs and jumps about the yard, and once he finds himself breathless, he’ll eventually come and sit beside me, while his brother, Adam, sky gazes. One spring day in particular, out of the blue, Samuel, with his little eyes closed, sun caressing his small impish, skyward directed face, says quietly, “I’m glad God’s here and gived us this sunshine.” And with a start, he opens his eyes exclaiming “I have to go to those dragonflies!” and he bounds away towards a smattering of dragonflies darting about the sunbeams in the front yard, more aware and awake to the presence of God than most of us could ever hope to be.

I pray he never loses sight of that.

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