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The bell

I will never get over growing up. It's part of the reason I don't drink alcohol. Drinking alcohol is such an adult thing to do and somewhere deep inside, I feel more comfortable at the kid's table.

All throughout childhood, I remember having nights where I would cry and cry and then write my letters to my parents about how I knew I was growing up and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I assumed it was breaking their hearts. I knew it was breaking mine.

Once, as an adult, I emailed my pastor and asked where in the Bible it talks about childhood being redeemed. His answer didn't satisfy (which, for the record, was the only time I remember that happening). He said, "Don't worry. Adulthood has its blessings too. It's not so bad."

But there is some reason that, as a human population, we spend over $1 trillion annually on gifts to our children from Santa. What's more, we will plunk down over $20 billion annually on Disney theme parks. When you wish upon a star...after all.

People are in search of something. What is it? If it's that universally valuable, what does the Bible have to say about it?

Evienne said to me tonight, "You always cry when he opens the bell, Mom, every time. Why? Why do you always cry when the boy opens the bell?" after The Polar Express. I cry because, for crying out loud, I can still hear the dang bell! On Christmas Eve, through my exhaustion, something in me still listens. It's not about Santa. It's not about presents. It's about making sure I haven't lost the ability to listen like a child.

When Smalls in The Sandlot is all grown up and being who he was made to be, I cry every. single. time. because the journey was so beautiful that the destination pales. I feel blessed to be in that segment of the population that is thrilled to have enjoyed a childhood we would do over in a heartbeat if given the chance. Neighborhoods. Campouts. Sleepovers. Clubhouses. Bicycles. Explorations. Friendships. Parades. Trampolines. Sprinklers. Bare feet. Basketball. Cut grass. Snow cones. Snow days. S'mores. Lemonade Stands. Carwashes. Kids. Swimming pools. Running. Playing. Sweating. Everything.

While adulthood has it's perks, it will never, ever compare in my book. The real dream for both Jim and for me is to be children with our children. That's taking the best of adulthood and overlaying it with the best of childhood. There, yes there, is where Heaven lies.

And maybe it actually is.

Maybe that IS where Heaven lies. Jesus said in Matthew 19:14, "Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." I know the way that is meant to be read. Those on their way to Heaven will follow Christ with the trusting faith of a child.

I always want to steer away from eisegesis or reading into the Bible something that is not there, or even worse, heresy. But I think this is an area where a harnessed redeemed imagination can only be helpful. If all of humanity throws its cash recklessly towards trying to redeem childhood themselves, then there must be something there worth saving and God doesn't miss that. It's funny to me that he even bothered creating childhood. It reveals something huge in the heart of God when one realizes childhood itself was his good idea.

The older I get, the more I identify with Peter Pan and the less attractive alcohol and high heels and cell phones and highlights are to me. I find childhood far more delightfully intoxicating. I hope I never do get over it. I'm going to try to hold out just long enough to get to do the whole thing over again.


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