Some children’s greatest fears live underneath their beds, and their parents have gotten up many a weary night and gone to their child’s bedroom, flashlight in hand, lifted the covers, shone the light on the dusty floor, and proved, once again, that there is no monster.
When I was a boy, I had a recurring dream about a giant, scowling, and mean-eyed lumberjack.
Years ago, I preached a sermon I still regret: a rambling, ill-focused, and sneering screed of a Palm Sunday sermon in which I took cheap potshots at parades. I talked about out-of-tune bands, out-of-sync drill teams, and out-of-shape military veterans crammed into their old uniforms.
The narrator of one of Alice Munro’s short stories described a middle aged woman this way: “Here she sat and saw her day as hurdles got through. Not much to her credit to go through her life thinking, Well, good, now that’s over, that’s over. What was she looking forward to, what bonus was she hoping to get, when this, and this, and this was over?” (Selected Stories, 1997).
Several years ago, I realized that, for a long time, I had been fighting back tears whenever I would see children run gleefully around a playground or hear them squeal with delight as they played, or notice their wonder over wildflowers, squirrels, and birdsong. It would happen, too, when I listened to a choir of children sing at the top of their lungs without embarrassment or when I saw a kids’ soccer team take the field with buoyant energy.
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