Charlie and I recently moved to a new apartment. Our windows face south, and our city view includes the rooftops of a few buildings nearby. Most of these spaces are set up for resident gatherings on one kind or another, but one of them houses a rooftop playground for what must be a daycare or kindergarten somewhere in that building.
On Fridays I don’t come into the office. Sometimes it is a day off, sometimes there is work to be done, but either way, mornings are usually a bit more leisurely. If I find myself sitting at our table mid-morning with a second cup of coffee and I look out the window around that time, I can see children in the distance playing on the rooftop during their morning recess.
They are far enough away so that I can’t see many details beyond these: that they are small human beings, that they are dressed for the elements, and, most compellingly, that they are running. Everywhere! To the slide, after they slide down the slide, playing tag, after jumping from a low bar on the jungle gym. They run by themselves, they run with friends.
This is one of my favorite things about living where we do. It’s inspiring to see the energy with which those anonymous children throw themselves into the experiences before them. Their enthusiasm is palpable; their joyful engagement—the way that they are fully present to what’s happening in the moment—translates across the open air of city blocks.
Having raised three sons (now in their twenties), I am not one to overromanticize childhood. But when Jesus says that we must become like little children to enter the kingdom of heaven, perhaps this is what he means: that we should run towards the experiences before us. That residency in heaven is closely tied to embracing the present moment, and that our enthusiasm prepares the way for the Spirit to galvanize full participation in God’s gifts of time, and space, and community.