If I'm patient, I can learn just about as much from our 2-year-old son James as from anybody. Life looks different three feet from the ground, when you really don't have a whole lot of preconceived categories for things. We pass by the most beautiful things sometimes because we're used to them. We went for a walk in the woods this week, and James discovered that many of the leaves on the ground had collected little pools of rainwater in them. And so he'd pick one up and watch the water drip out of it. How cute. And then he'd go to the next one, and pour the water out of it. And the next one. And the next one, every few feet. And for us who just want to get on with our walk, it was a little painstaking to wait for him to go through this ritual. But to him, every leaf, every little pool of water that reflected the light and dripped off onto the ground was amazing. And I thought to myself, why did we come out to the woods, if not to see these leaves that collected little pools of rainwater? We love the beauty of the woods, that's why we walk there, but we somehow feel the need to take in that beauty at an efficient clip and get on with it.
Oh to see the world through two-year-old eyes. Nothing is stale or cliché, nothing assumed. We’d show him a mirror and say, "Who’s that?" "Boy." "That’s right, and what are these?" "Eyes." "What color are boy’s eyes?" "Blue." "Very good." "What color are daddy’s eyes?" Pause. "Gray." "Oh really? What color are mama’s eyes?" Again, a pause, as his fresh mind is making new connections. "Gold." "Ooo, mama has gold eyes?" "Uh huh." I love my wife's eyes, I think they're beautiful. I don't believe I've told her so lately, but I've always thought so. But our smooth-talking two-year-old takes one look at her eyes and to him they're gold. Brown was just too quiet a color for him to describe them. He loves light and always notices the colors of things (in part because it's one of the few tools he has to describe what he's seeing). Just because I have larger and more complex frameworks to put things in, like one leaf in a whole wood of wet leaves or one pair of brown eyes amidst the majority of the world's population with brown eyes, doesn't mean I need to stop marveling at the one leaf or the unique shade of that one special pair of eyes. How many things would I have to be thankful for, how many things to worship the Creator for if I took the time to notice each marvelous creation? How would I see people differently if I didn't have categories for them but noticed how each person I meet is fearfully and wonderfully made?
It's easy to lose patience with James' resistance to forward progress, especially when we're in a hurry. And he certainly has a good deal to learn from us: for instance, not sliding headfirst and backwards off of the couch or bed. But when I take a moment to try to see things as he sees them, what an amazing world he can show me.