Why Can’t I Find You?
The preceding found its way to my inbox courtesy of a young child this week. At first, I just sat and stared blankly at the words in front of me with a combination of sadness and wonder at the unadorned honest longing of these few short lines. I felt sadness for this little person, and a bit of anger, if I’m honest. I wished that these big questions wouldn’t rudely barge into a happy childhood uninvited—that they would wait at least a little longer before invading this precious little heart and mind. I wished they would just go find an adult to torment.
Of course, it’s not altogether surprising that children should be thinking about these questions. Jesus seemed to think quite highly of the capacity of children, after all. And I know that my own children have spoken words that were true and good and provocative and instructive to me, even when they were very young. Perhaps we don’t give kids enough credit. Perhaps we just assume that they are happy with their snacks and video games and friends and the latest offering from Disney or Pixar. Perhaps there are unplumbed depths to their souls that we are unwilling to explore with them because we think they aren’t ready or can’t comprehend or aren’t interested.
Or maybe we don’t go to these places with children because we’re afraid of what it might reveal about our own hopes and fears and doubts and struggles and assumptions about the way the world is and what, if anything, it all means. Maybe the similarities hit too close to home. Maybe we just sail through our moments and our days, assuming that the grownups around us are mostly fine, that their lives are well-ordered, that their jobs are fulfilling, their relationships satisfying, their children well-adjusted and “normal,” their beliefs about God and faith and good and evil mostly settled and secure. Maybe we are too easily satisfied with (anesthetized by?) food and drink and movies and sports and church and whatever else we fill our days with. Maybe during the rare moments when we are quiet and receptive, when we unplug and disconnect, the same unsettling questions occur to us:
Why can’t I hear you?
Are you listening to me?
Why can’t I find you?
I started reading Eric Weiner’s Man Seeks God yesterday—another account of an older someone seeking a God who seems stubbornly to recede from view. In the Introduction, he quotes a few lines from a poem by Stephen Dunn:
you can’t teach disbelief to a child, only wonderful stories
Yes, wonderful stories. That is what we need, whether we are three or ninety-three or anywhere in between.
I continued to sit and stare at these words on the page—these tokens of longing from a little person wondering about the God who can’t be seen. And, in the end, I did what I should do far more frequently. I prayed.
I prayed that this child would be open to wonder—open to the unexpected ways that God speaks. I prayed that they would not feel alone, and that their curiosity and love for God would not be snuffed out.
I prayed that the people in their life would hug them often, that they would be willing to sit and talk with them, to honour their questions, that they would not silence them too quickly, that they would remind them that the touch and the voice of God very often comes through the touch and voice of one another.
I prayed that they would be told wonderful stories by people who love them. I prayed that this child’s imagination would be captured by these stories, and that these stories would invade their heart and mind with beauty and hope. I prayed that the deus absconditus—the hidden God—would be found by this little seeker… That he would come out to play.