“Natalie. Build. Castle!”
“Oh, are we building a castle?”
“Uh-huh! Yep! Build castle!”
“Wow, look at that ca–“
“Natalie step on it!”
“Yep, you sure did. Now what are we going to do?”
“Natalie. Build. Castle!”
And so it went this past week – back and forth from the water to the shore and back again. Dig, rinse, scoop, pour, stomp. Repeat.
There’s a beauty in a child’s monotony that big people miss. We want our actions to produce something that wasn’t there before we started. We want results that make sense.
And we are annoyed when rhythms appear (to us) to move without purpose. We don’t delight in doing simple things over and over again. There’s nothing delightful about laboring for underwhelming results.
We’ve lost our awe of little things.
But, oh, I wish you could have seen Natalie’s face! She got so industrious with that shovel and had such purpose with the big red bucket. She kept beautiful busy – building or destroying – and every once in a while she would invite someone else to join her. Try explaining to great, big 2-year-old blue eyes that digging, rinsing, scooping, pouring, stomping and repeating isn’t a good use of her time. Just try it.
Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I wonder what he would say to my 2-year-old niece who does the same thing over and over again and watches the result like it’s the first time she’s ever seen it.
She isn’t expecting something different (she knows full well what is coming), but when “it” happens, she blooms with joy. Every time, like it’s the first time.
G. K. Chesterton wrote in Orthodoxy Chapter 4:
“A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, ‘Do it again’; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”
I love it.
I love how Natalie could have the same amount of joy every time she built up the sand and every time the water washed it away… Every time I hid under the blankets and every time I appeared from underneath… Every time she said, “Natalie go outside, please” and every time she convinced someone to follow her.
Most of all, I love that “God is strong enough to exult in monotony.” Every once in a while we stop and admire the way the water comes in to the shore and splashes the beach, but God makes the water work in rhythm every day with crazy, consistent joy. I love to think that God “has the eternal appetite of infancy.”
Because how many times have we succumbed to sin, “growing old” with maturity marking our progress? How many times have we decided we don’t have time for monotony or aren’t interested or amazed by it anymore?
And how many daisies did God make today, delighting the same in the monotonous beauty of every one?