“Look, Daddy, there’s a plane!” cried a little voice several rows behind me.
We were actually on a plane, settling in before takeoff, and apparently the little person in back was sitting in a window seat .
“Look, there’s another one!” he said a minute later, his delight making his voice carry through the cabin. I heard a few snickers from fellow passengers, while his father spoke to him softly.
As we started taxiing, the little boy cried, “There’s another one! And another one!”
He went on and on, pointing out every plane he saw on the ride to the runway and a few he made up along the way. Finally, he erupted into a fit of giggles and asked for some juice.
In my late 20s at the time, I’d been on enough planes that any delight I may felt about them had worn off long before. But his excitement made me and several other people smile.
How long had it been since any of us had felt a similar sense of wonder?
The Power of Ice Cream
Today that little boy would be roughly the same age as I was back then. Does he remember his excitement that morning? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe now he has his own little boy or girl to exclaim over airplanes.
Children are ambassadors of wonder. One of their jobs seems to be to spread that sense of wonder everywhere they go. They are experts at it, and they take unabashed delight in it.
Everything is new to them.
A few days ago, my husband and I went to the neighborhood ice cream shop. As soon as you walk in, you smell the sugar from the cones that are constantly baking. And when you walk out, you carry that smell with you.
We should know; we go there more often than we should. As someone well into middle age, I sometimes feel guilty about that. But when I take that first bite of chocolate ice cream with peanut butter buckeyes, I get over it.
As we stood in line, I noticed a small boy in a blue shirt and shorts, probably less than a year old, sitting in his daddy’s arms. The man held a small cone with a scoop of vanilla that he was sharing with his son. Every few minutes, the little boy would lean over for a lick of ice cream and then laugh with delight.
As I watched, I laughed with him. He saw me, and we waved at each other. He leaned over for me to take him, but his daddy held on.
Smiling at both of them, I said, “It’s good, isn’t it? I always laugh when I get ice cream, too.”
I’m guessing that it wasn’t just the sweet and delicious taste of the ice cream that he loved but also the cold shock on his tongue on a sizzling summer day. I think it was also the love of his father, the security of his arms, and the moment of joy between them. A moment that I got to share too.
Children see and appreciate things we don’t. Oh, we did once, when we were their age, but then we grew up and became sophisticated, cynical, crazy busy, stressed out, tired, and bored. We have learned the science behind airplanes, the health risks of too much ice cream, and the troubles of life that quell laughter and delight.
Yet we live in a world with luna moths, waterfalls, Labrador Retrievers, peonies, whales, cacti, flamingos, volcanos, coconuts, glaciers, tomatoes, hedgehogs, glowfish—and human beings who all bear the image of God.
We are surrounded by beauty, color, variety, and order in both the seen and the unseen, all of it provided by a loving Father who freely shares his good and beautiful gifts with the world. These gifts point to him, teach us about him, and even invite us to enjoy him. But when you’re as advanced as we think we are, it can all seem ho-hum and hum-drum.
We are perhaps too grown up to open up to wonder.
My friend Crystal has three grandchildren who are all about a year old. She sent me videos of them chasing bubbles and splashing in puddles. They are barely walking, flat-footed and awkward in their sandals, but they are laughing with joy and so are the adults around them. “Children bring fresh eyes to everything,” she says.
It wasn’t many years ago when Crystal’s four sons were jumping in puddles themselves. One time, their family visited a new park, and bursting with excitement, the boys ran from one thing to another, exploring and discovering before going on to something else. They could hardly take it all in.
Then Jordan cried, “Mommy, we’ve never been in this world before!“
One day, those of us who know Jesus will be filled with wonder the depth of which we have never known. Our Father will be sharing delights with us that are far beyond what we can imagine. And we might find ourselves laughing with joy and surprise when we realize that we had glimpses of that world here in this one, all around us, right now.
Freelance writer and speaker LeAnne Martin looks for the beauty around us and encourages others to do the same. Through her words and pictures, she shares glimpses of beauty in nature, the arts, and the unexpected on her blog, Glimsen. Sign up to receive her weekly posts, and you’ll get a free gift of beauty in your inbox. You can also connect with LeAnne on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. LeAnne lives with her husband in a wooded neighborhood outside Atlanta and looks forward to her next FaceTime with her daughter in college.