Every morning, for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been reading a little devotional book by Brennan Manning titled, The Rabbi’s Heartbeat. In one devotion he writes about Christ admonishing us to be childlike. Brennan then names several positive qualities of children: openness, trusting, simplicity, sensitivity.
But another picture came to my mind. It was when my daughter, Amanda, was two and in the hospital to have her tonsils removed. The night before the surgery, we were in the hospital playroom. Amanda sat on the floor totally absorbed in building blocks. Across the room a little black boy, about the same age, watched her, mesmerized. I wondered what fascinated him so. A moment later he toddled across the room and stood behind her staring at her long, blond hair. Hesitantly, he lifted his golden-brown hand and touched it. His eyes rounded and his little mouth formed an O. Then, as if he were petting a kitten, he ran his palm down her soft tresses.
Amanda turned and looked up. Her big, blue eyes widened when she saw the mop of tight black curls on his head. She stood and hesitantly lifted her peach-white hand. He didn’t move a muscle. She opened her palm and patted it.
She smiled. He smiled. After that they spent the rest of the hour playing blocks together.
How I wish all were childlike in this way. Amanda and that little boy recognized they were different and were fascinated by it, even appreciated it. Each accepted the other, even though they were different, and moved on to more important things like building blocks together.
A few years back while having coffee with my friend who is black, we talked about the clumsiness some people have when befriending a person from a different culture or race. She mentioned how some people would say to her, “You are my friend, why I don’t even think of you as being black.” To which she mentally asks, “What is wrong with being black?”
The answer? Nothing.
We do not have to be the same to appreciate, even love, each other. I want to be like a child, willing to build with those who are different from me. I always want to appreciate other cultures, other races, other traditions. I want to be fascinated by them, to esteem them, and move on to more important things with them.
I want to be childlike in the best sense of the word.