Elise is wide eyed at everything, from the start of each day. Her wide eyes search me out in the morning hours, and she is keen to touch my face as she greets me. In fact, she touches every face she can reach, no matter how unfamiliar the face. To her, every person is attractive, a potential friendship.
She zealously crawls about the house, hungry to see and touch everything within reach; when she finds an item of interest, she stops to taste it and forgets all else.
She makes her way toward the stairs; it is clear she hasn’t thought of a goal beyond reaching and examining the bottom step. If we call to her, “are you really going to try the stairs?” she looks back for a moment, her entire face a smile, her blue eyes bursting with merriment, and then she turns herself back to the task at hand: reaching the foot of the stairs.
In the night, she nurses ardently. She is single-minded about her needs. At 3 a.m., this is all she needs, and she knows it.
If you pass her an object, she clasps it with her long baby fingers, unhesitating, without fear. She glows with wonder for all things. To reach for things without fear; it is so Edenic. I know this little Eden can’t and won’t last much longer, and that is both sad and—in terms of her longevity on earth—it is good.
Most mornings, Lena will shout from the next room, “Mom! Dad! It’s morning day! It’s the morning!” Our rooms are not very soundproof, and she knows it. A moment later she will burst into our bedroom, and despite our admonitions to whisper, she’ll peer into the cot and exclaim, “Mom! Is that Baby Elise?” (Yes, that is. The very same Baby Elise you knew yesterday.) Elise is now awake, beaming up at Lena with sleepy eyes. And thus most days begin.
Lena wants to read the same books, over and over (and why, oh why, must it be the books I like the least?), several times a day. How she is not tired of them, I do not know.
Lena makes her demands without fear (most of her demands pertain to snacks or cartoons); she is the opposite of self-conscious. She asks until she gets an answer, even if it is not the answer she wants. She does nothing to impress us or groom us before asking: she simply speaks. Her confidence is unwavering as she makes her requests, and I hear echoes of Eden in that confidence.
She says, “Mom, you wanna snuggle?” at every bedtime, and we both know that it isn’t really a question, and we both know that as far I am concerned, it never will be.
When I read, “let us approach [God] with confidence,” my bold two-year-old comes to mind, asking for her heart’s desires in full knowledge of our love and delight.
And when I hear Jesus say, “Mary has chosen one thing, and it is the better thing,” I can almost feel Elise in my arms in the dark hours, taking in milk and nothing else.
And when we do it again, and again, the same game, the same phrase, the same dazzling rainbow dress, I’m reminded of a God who gives us 24-hour days, over and over, to the tune of the same sun and the same cycle of seasons, delighting equally in each one. My daughters are in no doubt of my delight; they are no less doubtful of the delight of their Maker, who has bid all of us reticent adults to come in the same spirit.
Lena, dressed for the day, opens the front door and is awash in morning light. She declares, as she looks out onto the street, “Mom! I am SO beautiful!” (What a world it would be if we all could so self-forgetfully delight in ourselves.) God beheld us and said, “I made you to look like me, and you are very good,” and wisdom sang along; standing in the doorway, Lena echoes the song, and her harmony is perfect.
The Kingdom of Heaven—our future Eden—it is real; we are walking that way, and my girls are leading me there.
“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.”