This summer, I had the joy of taking a free class on Children’s Literature from Hillsdale College. The instructor covered a variety of genre of literature including fairy tales and well-known children’s classics. One of the books was ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland‘ by Lewis Carroll. Carroll was a mathematics professor at Oxford and a deacon in the Church of England. He had a speech impediment and was very shy. He seemed to be somewhat uncomfortable with adulthood. Alice in his book was a child when she lived above ground, but when she fell down the rabbit hole, she entered the adult world and was somewhat confused by it. She was constantly asking herself or being asked who she was. That was a difficult question for her to answer. After Alice awoke from her long dream, she told her older sister about her dream and then left her sister to ponder about adulthood alone. The final paragraph in the book summarized her thoughts about Alice’s adventures,
“Lastly, she pictured to herself how this same little sister of hers would, in the after-time, be herself a grown woman; and how she would keep, through all her riper years, the simple and loving heart of her childhood: and how she would gather about her other little children, and make their eyes bright and eager with many a strange tale, perhaps even with the dream of Wonderland of long ago: and how she would feel with all their simple sorrows, and find a pleasure in all their simple joys, remembering her own child-life, and the happy summer days.”
Chapel Hill Bible Church is known to be an inter-generational congregation. There are intentional relationships between families and college students. Life groups provide opportunities for families of different aged children or families without young children to spend time together. Another way that our congregation can expand our inter-generational relationships is for older members to spend time with young children. Why is this important? Actually it is a two-way beneficial relationship. In Luke 18:16 Jesus called the children to come to Him saying to the apostles,”Allow the children to come to Me, and do not forbid them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I assure you and most solemnly say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God [with faith and humility] like a child will not enter it at all.” Now what is it about children that would cause Jesus to say that it is necessary to receive the kingdom of God like a child?
- Young children are full of wonder and awe at the world around them. They have not yet developed the cynicism and sophistication that often accompanies adulthood.
- Young children are helpless to a certain extent and find it easier to trust someone who will care for them.
- Children generally ‘soak up’ the world around them and are eager to explore and ready to learn new things.
Now what could an older adult bring to a child?
- The wisdom of experience and age
- Time to sit and listen and talk together
- Areas of interest to be shared and developed in the younger child
- The opportunity to share about differences in culture from an earlier time
- The opportunity to pass on God’s truths to the next generation
This week Dwight and I have enjoyed having our two younger grandchildren with us. We’ve had the opportunity to watch classic movies together, to cook and eat together, to talk about history and share family stories, to play cards together. It’s been great fun to share time. These children live a several hours away, and we don’t get to spend extended time together very often. This is a rare treat for us!
There are children around us in our church family or in our neighborhoods that we can ‘adopt’. These families may not have familial grandparents for a variety of reasons. What better way to grow in community and develop grand-parent and grand-child relationships among us than to ‘adopt’ one another! Everyone can benefit from such a relationship.