I love this photograph I took on the Fourth of July. Our extended family had spent the day frolicking in a nearby lake. After our fingers had wrinkled to ridges and our skin had overindulged on vitamin D, we loaded up the vehicle and headed home.
Typically, the zany antics of children en route to a fun-filled activity tend to wane into snoozing and silence during the return trip. But this time it was different. Though my niece's body was probably fatigued from hours of swimming, her imagination was anything but. As we traveled down a hilly country road, she decided to roll down the window. A sixty-mile-per-hour slipstream whistled past, air moving much too quickly for her to stick her head out. Or was it?
An idea in her head suddenly flickered to light and glowed. There were goggles in the car. They had protected her eyes from the lake water, why not from the rushing wind? And so my niece grabbed the goggles and placed them on her head like a WWI aviator. Contact. Lift off. Head out the window. Imagination airborne!
Hearing squeals of laughter tumbling about in the currents of an opened window, I turned around. There was my niece with a huge toothy grin, her lips flapping and fluttering. The edges of her smile stretched back to her earlobes. And that's when I saw it. There was something more going on than just a girl having a blast and living in the moment. She had caught hold of something elusive just long enough for me to see it: a joy set free by a vivid imagination. I was witnessing childhood in all its beauty and purity. I captured the image on my phone, and it set me to thinking about my own life.
I wondered what it would be like if the step of my present and future was influenced by such an imagination, not childish in nature but childlike. How would my view of myself, others, and the greater world be altered by seeing with fresh, imaginative, and hopeful eyes?
My thoughts reminded me of words spoken by Jesus when he said that unless one becomes like a child he or she can neither see nor enter the Kingdom of God. He seemed to indicate that the road to truth can only be found by taking on the mindset of a child: teachable, humble, creative, and able to believe the unbelievable. It makes sense that there was such a prerequisite, for how else would anybody be able to see and accept the One who walked on water, multiplied fish, healed the terminally ill, and raised the dead, unless he or she had the wondrous mind of a child?
It is this type of mindset that I believe we all need to adopt. Unfortunately, for myself and others, it is one that tends to get buried and lost in life’s clutter. That once variegated, spontaneous, and imaginative thought that could fashion fantastical, new worlds, envision unanticipated inventions, and propose unconventional solutions to problems disappears.
But the encouraging news is that one is never too old to begin growing young again. So strap on your googles and get ready to stick your head out the window!