“Clean your teeth, please!” I said as my 2 year old put down her orange-paste-laden toothbrush. We were almost ready to go out, and I really wanted to get going. Saying nothing, she placed her toothbrush on the window sill, carefully pushed her long hair back behind her shoulders then picked up the brush and starting doing her teeth. As I watched her, I realised that although she’s quite a talker, at that moment it was easier for her to get on with getting her hair out of her face so that she didn’t get toothpaste on it than it was to explain what she was doing to me. In fact, why did she need to explain? Couldn’t I see what she was doing?!
This weekend I was talking with people about working with under 5s, especially the younger ones who can’t talk, and how it’s possible to assume that because they can’t talk that they can’t understand or aren’t spiritually active. This is, of course, far from the truth, as we all know little children absorb what’s around them like a sponge; learning is what they do all day! And this is also true of their faith. They absorb the faith around them, the rituals, the symbols, the language, the stories, processing it internally and through play. It’s easy to wait until children are articulate enough to give us feedback and let us know that some of what we’re modelling and teaching is ‘working’. However, if we wait until we can see the ‘fruit’, we miss out on possibly the most absorbent time in a child’s life, when they are developing their foundations for life in all areas – emotionally, physically, socially and spiritually.
As my daughters, who are currently 2 and 3 years old, have begun to talk with me about their faith journey, I have been delighted in the glimpses I’ve seen of what God is doing in them and how they relate with Him. However, I know that it’s easy for me to rely on their verbal responses, rather than watching them and watching what God is doing. Just like with the toothpaste/hair scenario, I need to be better at observing.
This morning as I was putting washing on the line, I noticed how stunning the blossom is. And on my plum tree, as well as being beautiful, each one is also potentially a plum! It made me think about how I’m eager for ‘fruit’ I can also look for and celebrate the blossom. Maybe today ask God to help you see the blossom in your life, the glimpses of what God is doing, the beginnings of things which He is growing.