I heard a children's choir sing this morning at my sister's church. It's hard to put into words the energy the kids exuded. Each of them has been received into the World Hope ministry because of the dire living conditions in their native Uganda, Nepal and Philippines. The videos painted a bleak picture of how some children in the world live. The children's combined voices and smiles painted a different picture. They reminded each of us of the life-saving, transforming power of hope and and love and joy. The kind of joy you can feel when you're a little kid dancing and singing because you've got a soft bed, clean water, enough food, and plenty of love. The kind of joy that is infectious. There were more than a few grown-ups singing and dancing, too.
On the way out of the church I noticed another child. This one was dressed in an irvory organza dress, topped with a red velvet jacket. White tights and black patent Mary Janes completed the ensemble. When I saw her, she was lying across one of those sling swings, trailing her feet in the sand. I admit, my first inclination was to shudder at the thought of such inappropriate playground attire. Yet as I watched it was clear the girl had been transported to the Land of Imagination. She moved very slowly, up and back, dragging her feet the whole time. When was the last time you were on a swing, holding on to thick chains while pumping your legs to get higher and higher? Do you remember getting to the height you wanted, then letting the swing slow down at its own pace? And as you slowed did you lean as far back as you could go and watch the clouds move across the sky. Remember that dizzy feeling? Remember the carefree syncopation with the world. The opposite of that is what the little girl in her Sunday clothes was doing. Instead of looking up, she looked down in the same "nothing in the world matters except this very minute" manner.
That's the thing about being a kid, you don't feel the need to rush everywhere, to stay busy. There is joy to be had in looking up or looking down. In swinging. In dancing. In singing. In fancy shoes or bare feet. In velvet clothes or grass skirts. Oh that all God's children knew this kind of joy.
When was the last time you noticed a child at play? Did you want to play too? I'm definitely in the mood to swing.