The other week the house has been full of youth. Their presence has make me wonder about what Jesus means to become as a child. The granddaughters of two of the residents were visiting. I thought they would be shy, but neither of them were. Both were full of life and conversation, bright eyed and very helpful in the kitchen. Anaya helped with cooking and Celia assisted in dish washing. I enjoyed their conversation. They responded to my questions with an openness and ease that was refreshing for a 10 and 11 year old. A— shared about a recent altercation at school and C—, some of her insights on the movie Brave. Perhaps they were just outgoing, but there was an eagerness to help and learn and share to discuss and receive. Unhardened and genuine.
During the same weekend we hosted 25 Jewish teens on retreat. Their Rabbi wanted them to have some exposure to Christianity. They were a fun bunch. I sat down at the table with a few of them and they were received me well and really knew how to dialogue and express themselves. I learned a bit about their lives and hobbies, whether it was drama, playing cello and how they prepare for their Bar Mitzvah. They have to lead prayer and the service for their Bar Mitzvah and also seem to take on leadership roles with helping in the Sunday classes from k-7. Perhaps that is why they seem to have such a strong sense of self and interest in others. A few of them were even interested in my life here and my work. When I started talking about rapid transit in the Richmond region, they all got excited. One young lady, thin, braces and with long blond hair, remarked that she would like to get to the city more. Her family lives in the county and they only come into the city for Temple. She thought transit would help. Another brown haired girl with rosy cheeks said it was strange that Richmond does not have a rapid transit system like other cities. They were all hopeful that it “could” happen here. As we finished up breakfast, the 4 of them thanked me for working on transit and thought it was admirable and necessary. I was astonished by their curiosity and understanding, it gave me hope for our future. These will be the people riding transit and running the region in the next 15-20 years. I thanked them too, as their presence filled this space with a youthful exuberance. They were a grateful bunch in general, offering profuse thanks after every meal as they stood stacking their dishes at the window as I washing them.
Maybe what it means to be like a child is: to keep our hearts open, unhardened and genuine and to approach life with youthful exuberance, gratitude and an eagerness to help, learn, share, discuss and receive. I am a witness that out of the mouth of babes and youth, can come wisdom, gratitude and sheer goodness.