They were there for all the world to see. Twirling. All three feet of them. There in their little rain boots and tiny flowered dresses. Twirling around and around as if they were the only two little girls in the world. At that moment, it seemed they were I was sitting at dinner with a friend on the patio of a restaurant. Mid sentence, I stopped. They caught my eye and for some reason I had to stop my world to watch them. Just to watch them. To delight in them. In awe of them. Just them, their rain boots, their curls, and their unmasked freedom. I envied them in many ways – but delighted in them more.
“Mommy, I want her to be my friend”
“What’s your name?”
“My name is Elisa and I like you too”
Sometimes precious is just not a strong enough word. Like that moment. Like when your world stops just to watch two three year olds who don’t even know each other twirling in the middle of crowded tables on the patio of The Cheesecake Factory under a big moon and a small world and an even larger life. They had only one thing in common at that moment – Twirling. All I could think about was this…. “You, little ones, Are Our Teachers. And I delight in you.”
You see there is this space of a three year old that’s one of the most magical places known to man. Few understand it. Fewer value it. Everyone looses it. Its called Freedom. There is the space of "being unaware of your Self" that we loose when we get to be about 5. Before that, children say things and do things and simply Love in ways that are open and free and intensely vulnerable. But here’s the kicker. They Don’t Care. They don’t care if they are looked at as silly or dirty or strange. They don’t really even know that you know they’re there at all. They are the truest versions of themselves and they enjoy themselves in spite of themselves and definitely in spite of you.
Have you ever noticed how a three year old will look you dead in the eye and not look away? As if they don’t know they’re supposed to. As if they don’t know they are supposed to feel uncomfortable or intimidated.
Keating says: “Our innocence as children is the innocence of ignorance….infants are at one with all that is happening around them”
But then it happens. Magic ends and Inhibition takes over, and we start to have thoughts that go something like this: “What are they thinking of me?” “Will they think this is silly or stupid or wrong?” Or this one. This big one. “Are they happy with me? Do they think well of me? Do they….. delight in me? Do you, Lord, delight in me?”
“Yes, Child - especially when you dance, and play, and laugh. I always do. I always will”
The cool thing is that answer never changes. The sad thing is that we do.
I have found this….When we re-discover the freedom of twirling and playing and loving boldly and forgiving freely and laughing as if no one is around and dancing as if no one is watching and living as if we have only one – then we find the truest version of ourselves. But what stops us? One word. Four letters. Fierce as a dragon and dangerous as a serpant. It is Fear. Something three years old have little of – simply because they don’t know they are supposed to. Because they are unaware. There’s something about play that ignites us.
Amazingly, I have had some of my most depressed clients somehow forget they are depressed around small children. An elderly man who has lost everything and everyone dear to him comes alive around a three year old. Why? We catch their Magic.
Granted, I’m naturally a child at heart and will be when I’m 80. I believe in playing and laughing and drinking in life as if I only have one. Maybe because I do. But if we have lost it then that means that we had it, and we can find it again. The Magic. There is a time and a place for all things. We are not children – we are adults. But I can’t help remembering an incredible Savior saying this one time:
“Unless you be as little children.....”
And I just wonder, what would happen if we started letting children teach us? Teach us how to forgive freely and to be-friend easily and to play often. And to twirl. When is the last time we twirled? For me? It was after I walked a labyrinth in the still places of the night. After reaching the center. After bowing in prayer. After rising and smiling and then….. twirling. Why? Well, maybe just because I could. Maybe because I wanted to. And maybe - just maybe, at that moment, I stepped into Magic. Not caring if anyone saw or didn’t see. Wondering if My Father would delight in me – all of me – despite of me.
“I like her, Mommy. I like how she dances with me” Sitting there, loving them without knowing them. Mesmerized by their freedom. Captivated by their joy. Twirling with them in my head.
It was ... Delightful.