My name is Hannah Rude. As many of you probably already know, children set my heart on fire. I love their curiosity and their love of life. I love how everything is new to them. In Matthew 18:3, Jesus calls us to "become like children." What does "becoming like children" look like?
Like a Child
By Hannah Rude
You came to me, weary,
Weighed down and in debt
And I said-
“Go to the top of a hill,
Spread out your arms,
And run down as fast as you can…
You will fly”
You looked at me, and shook your head-
“I am too old for that”
“You are only as old as those you spend time with-
When was the last time you laughed with a child?
Stared into the face of a baby?”
You shook your head,
“I do not have time for such things.
There is work to be done,
Debts to be payed,
Income to be won.
There are due dates,
and” “I have something to show you.”
“I have something to show you.”
Sighing, you followed.
“I don’t see the point of this.”
We reached the door, and I grabbed your hand…
You pulled it away.
“I can’t go out there! I have no raincoat!”
I laughed, “I wouldn’t let you wear one if you did. It would only keep you dry.”
“Bu…but…that’s the point!!!” you sputtered, temper flaring, eyes flashing
I hauled you kicking and screaming into the wet, and yanked off your suit jacket and tie
“Feel it,” I gasped, tossing your shoes and socks aside. “Let it seep into your skin and drip down your back. Dance!” I twirled you around in a circle and looked you in the eyes. “Doesn’t it make you feel alive?”
“Cold, it makes me feel cold,” you said, glaring at me, pulling away once again
You were so stubborn
You refused to join me
as I climbed upon the swing
and let my toes touch the clouds
The sun’s warmth caressed my face,
and the wind danced with my hair
You went back inside
I tried so hard with you,
defiant as you were
But you wouldn’t jump in puddles,
or play with soap bubbles
You refused to roll down hills
You didn’t believe in the impossible,
And you were always worried about tomorrow
And above all,
You were set in your view of our world,
And I couldn’t seem to change it
There was a short story that I read a couple years back that stuck with me. "Eleven," by Sandra Cisneros, describes how we are all children underneath our adult selves. You can look up the full story for yourself if you're interested, but I'll quote the part that describes this phenomenon here:
"What they don’t understand about birthdays and what they never tell you is that when you’re eleven, you’re also ten, and nine, and eight, and seven, and six, and five, and four, and three, and two, and one. And when you wake up on your eleventh birthday you expect to feel eleven, but you don’t. You open your eyes and everything’s just like yesterday, only it’s today. And you don’t feel eleven at all. You feel like you’re still ten.
And you are—underneath the year that makes you eleven.
Like some days you might say something stupid, and that’s the part of you that’s still ten. Or maybe some days you might need to sit on your mama’s lap because you’re scared, and that’s the part of you that’s five. And maybe one day when you’re all grown up maybe you will need to cry like if you’re three, and that’s okay.
That’s what I tell Mama when she’s sad and needs to cry. Maybe she’s feeling three.
Because the way you grow old is kind of like an onion or like the rings inside a tree trunk or like my little wooden dolls that fit one inside the other, each year inside the next one. That’s how being eleven years old is."
When I turned 18, I mourned the loss of the child in me. This excerpt gives me comfort that the child in me might still be there. These dolls represent children and are for children. May they remind you to search for the child in you.