I heard once that children are born with faith. But as they mature into teens and adults, we rob them of it. We teach them the “right” answers rather than letting them revel in the holy mystery. Oftentimes parents worry about how to teach a child to navigate the death of a pet or a grandparent or a friend. But typically the child’s heart grasps it and deals with it more spiritually than do the adults.
I remember how my own son taught me about the spiritual practice of generosity. Because he didn’t understand the need to save money in a 401(k), or conserve his allowance for a future need, he would spend all his money the moment he received it. But not always on himself.
One day when he was about 10 or 11 I took him to a Royals game. He had $50 in his pocket. It was his birthday money. In the gift shop he picked out a size 4 sweatshirt to buy for a little boy who was a family friend. It was $49.99. I stammered. This little 4-year-old friend didn’t need a sweatshirt. He probably already had one. But my sweet Connor wanted to offer a gift. He was thinking of others. He wanted to spend his money on love. And I couldn’t figure out how to tell him that that was wrong. I tried to tiptoe down that line of “practical realities” without quelling his deep childlike faith in generosity rooted in giving to those whom we deeply love.
Yes, we must all balance the humdrum responsibilities of how to wisely spend our time and money. But not at the expense of leaving all the joy to children. We too long to give away our spirits, our love, our joy. What lavish gift would make your heart sing?