Following the Child

A little child shall lead them” says the prophet Isaiah, in a metaphor for the peaceable reign of God.

For a week I have followed a child, a grandchild of mine, almost 8, here on a visit. I pondered as I was trying to keep pace with him about what peace would look like if a child were to lead us there:

  • it would be energetic! with the beginning of every day, the child would open with the question, “What are we going to do today?” and then run, tumble, jump or somersault into the activity with eagerness. Bruce Epperly, also a Patheos blogger, in his book, Tending the Holy, recounts his own spiritual practice of rising at dawn to ask, “What great things will happen in my life today?”  (p.8) Peace comes from following the child or adult who loves Life enough to trust that the God of Peace is always doing a new thing, and inviting me to be part of it.
  • it would be intelligent! The child arrived at our house with a musing: “I think I have a theory about how the moon was made,” he said. And to that end he led the search for data and research–a visit to the planetarium, a conversation with an astronomer, a book fro the library, all became part of the thinking that he did about what made a moon. Would that those leader of Church and state be willing to use the same kind of intelligence and inquiry and tenaciousness to find the things that make for peace!
  • it would be imaginative!  With each artifact or new site we explored, the child brought the what-if-questions: what if I jumped all the way over to the Hollywood sign? what if all the hummingbirds wanted the same flower at the same time? what if an asteroid landed on the front lawn while we were in the house? …and the noticings- that plant is really a squiggly line, not a circle; the tar in the pits is really sticky and stinky; the tram stays on the track even when there is only one wheel touching the side: how does that work? (These questions and noticings may not be verbatim; I wasn’t taking notes, just listening!) John Lennon asked us many years ago to imagine the peaceable realm;  the child can take us there by shaking loose my imagination.
  • it would be loving! No day went by without action, words, gestures of love and compassion, giving and receiving. A little nine- pound dog was lost in the neighborhood; a little cousin could not quite keep up with the big ones; a grandfather was weary after a long day of work: all of these were objects for love and gentleness and care. Love is the engine for bringing peace to our places or work and play, to our world and its varied parts, and the child led the way.

Energy, intelligence, imagination and love…the things that make for peace! And a little child led me! I hope I have learned the paths of peace and can be the Child of God I am created to be.

Joyful News for Women and Men: Jesus Feminist, A Review
Invitations on the Journey: Keep Moving
Going Home By Another Way
Walking the Light of Holy Week.
About Elizabeth Nordquist

Elizabeth Nordquist is a Presbyterian pastor, teacher, and spiritual director who writes on women's issues, spirituality and Scripture, and what is happening in the world--hers, her neighborhood, the Church and the world. Each day she looks for ways in which the Spirit is moving in and around her.

  • Thom

    I like this plan! Lots of smiles in that peace.

  • Pastor Jan

    Makes me anticipate with even greater eagerness the time when I will be led by granddaughter to once again appreciate what God has done, is doing, and will do in the world. Even at 6 months, she has already led me in so many ways. Yes, the little shall lead us to peace.

  • Halcyon Peterson

    What fun you have been having with your little one! But aren’t YOU tired now?? I find my grandkids, who are grown now and can keep up with adult-level conversations and thinking, can still tire me almost as much as they did when they were little. Or maybe it’s just that I tire faster than I used to. Just have as much fun as you can with all your little ones — it doesn’t last long, as I’m sure you’ve already learned. I love the questions you’ve been faced with. And I’m glad it’s you and not I who had to come up with the answers!

    Love and hugs, Halcyon

  • Mary Ann Rohrer

    What amazing days you spent and what a wonderful process of learning, Elizabeth! I should make a refrigerator magnet with these admonitions on them! Thank you.

  • Heidi Worthen Gamble

    love the “what ifs” and the “noticings”…thank you for a beautiful, joyous blog celebrating the real child! children do shake loose our imaginations, whether we’re ready or not!

  • coolest movie gadgets

    to the point and easy to interpret. Thanks a ton for the valuable ideas you have shared above.