Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Goodness Doesn't Mean Standing Still

Something that Katherine Paterson said at April’s Festival of Faith & Writing in April struck me: We have to be careful as Christians NOT to teach our children that goodness means inactivity, means NOT doing bad things.

This thought fits with my personal pet peeve about people (myself included!) not fully using their God-given talents. And it also reminds me of an interaction I witnessed at the Frederik Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids, Michigan: There’s a big rolling hill beside the Trojan Horse sculpture, and one girl, probably about seven years old, climbed to the very top. But it’s steeper than it looks, so when she ran back down to her mother, who was pushing a stroller with her baby brother, the little girl ran faster and faster and faster, and then, rather than fall face-first, she fell to her knees and skidded to a stop on the grass. When she stood up, she was exhilarated and scared all at the same time, and she looked at her mother’s face for confirmation that she was safe, but then the little girl looked down at the knees of her cream-colored pants and saw that the knees were all green and brown.
I expected the mother to say, “Are you OK?” but that didn’t happen. Then the little girl said, “Oh no,” and rubbed her hands on the knees of her pants. Her mother said, “That’s what happens when you’re a bad girl and don’t listen to me.” But I wanted to say, “How blessed you are to have such a healthy, strong daughter who is ambitious enough to climb such a steep hill and then has the wisdom to slide on her knees and stand right back up again when the
momentum of her daring act takes her breath away."

That’s why Katherine Paterson’s words about not mistaking inactivity for wisdom resonate with me. Katherine also told of a young boy who went to Sunday School for the first time, and when his parents asked what he’d learned, he said, “About Jesus, and SIT DOWN, SIT DOWN, SIT DOWN!!!”

So, I’m telling myself to live an active life. At my stage of life, my greatest sins will NOT be sins of commission, but sins of omission. And when my ambition exceeds my current level of talent and experience, I’ll have to remember to fall on my knees!