I’m finding it hard to put my Valentine away.
Made by precious hands—those of my three-year-old-grandson, Micah, and his mommy, my daughter Shannon—the three-dimensional Valentine has a prominent place on my kitchen island. It’s a constant reminder of what's good in this world.
Love from a little one.
And love from a grown daughter.
In the present day of hatred, anger, school shootings, and vitriol on social media threads, the simple homemade craft lifts my heart. Maybe that’s why so many of us as parents and grandparents have a hard time throwing precious treasures like these away. They get tucked in drawers and boxes to be pulled out in later years as a cherished memory—reminding us of loved shared, innocence lost, and a time long gone.
The purity of children is refreshing and endearing. I love to talk with them and hear their uncensored thoughts flowing out, unhindered. And I laugh with them more than at any other time.
Life is so serious.
Thrilled with wonder at the simplest things, they delight in what we adults ignore. My 18-month-old grandson gazed excitedly, pointed and exclaimed “BIRD!” anytime one flew near. It never got old—both his joy and my smile at his discovery.
Years ago I took a trip to the CS Lewis and Tolkien museum in Wheaton, Illinois. I excitedly shared with eight-year-old Caroline that I had seen the real wardrobe written about in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. She looked at me intently and asked, “Nana, did you go in?” I told her, no, I didn’t. She nodded slowly, raised her eyebrows and spoke seriously, “You can only go to Narnia if you believe.”
In one of the Beatitudes found in the Matthew 5, Jesus tells us “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
Little ones reflect that purity of heart, before they are influenced and tainted by life. Maybe that’s why their sweet prayers are answered readily by the Father. With simple trust, fresh faith, and access to God—they see glimpses of him as a result. And maybe that’s why Jesus readily gathered the children around him while on earth.
The disciples didn’t understand. And, in an attempt to efficiently handle the Master’s time and energy, they shooed them away. They didn’t want him to be bothered. But Jesus intervened and said, “Let the children alone, don’t prevent them from coming to me. God’s kingdom is made up of people like these.”
He not only invited them close, he laid his hands on them and blessed them. Surely, he too smiled at their innocence. In my imagination, I hear him laughing. While looking in their eyes, he saw their hearts. And he beheld the kingdom of God.
So will we, if we’re not too busy to stop and listen. To ask questions and pay attention to their thought processes and their words.
To affirm them.
To touch them.
To wonder at their purity of heart, and their love.
Mark Twain captured it all when he said, “I love these little people. And it’s no small thing when they, so fresh from God, love us.”
My husband and I know a precious family at church who have six young children. One of them— four-year-old Frank—has started running to us during each communion time and giving us wonderful, intense, and long-lasting hugs. He sits with us without saying a word, gives us our hugs, and then with a big smile runs back to his family. Both we and his parents marveled at his unprompted gesture at first, but now we expect and look forward to it. Many Sundays his hug was just the comforting expression I needed as I went through a sorrowful year.
May we learn from the example of the children in our lives. And in the process, long to be pure of heart like they are.
For by seeing them, we glimpse God.