A Child, a Dandelion, and God

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IMG_0775 dandelions

My granddaughter Zoe is now eight years old. She has touched my life with memorable moments, including the one described in this sermon from Trinity Sunday, May 30, 2010.

If you would know something about the eighth chapter of the book of Proverbs, spend time with a child. Proverbs 8 speaks of wisdom. Or rather, Wisdom speaks. This is one of the places in the Bible where “wisdom” does not refer to sayings or stories that instruct in good living. Rather, “Wisdom” here is a living being. Because the Hebrew word for wisdom is in the feminine form, it is sometimes translated “Lady Wisdom.”

Drawing upon Eugene Peterson’s “The Message,” here’s a portion of what Lady Wisdom says: “God made me before anything else. And so I was there when God created the earth, the oceans, the mountains, the sky. I saw all things come into being. Day after day I was there, with my joyful applause, always enjoying God’s company, delighted with the world of things and creatures, happily celebrating the human family.”

“Lady Wisdom” tells us she was present at the beginning of all things, and saw God’s creation unfold. Of course, I did not see the beginning of God’s world. But I have been watching the creation of Zoe’s world. And in doing so, have seen something of “Lady Wisdom” and God’s creativity.

Zoe is my granddaughter, age one year, four months, eleven days. I spend a few hours with her each week. And recently, she showed me something of Proverbs, chapter 8. She and I were going for a walk. I said, “Zoe, there are no sidewalks here, so you absolutely must hold my hand.” She’s not always happy about that; she sometimes bolts and goes her own way. But this time she was very good about it. She never let go, not even when she suddenly stopped, leaned over, and picked a dandelion that had caught her attention. She carried the small flower as we continued our walk. A bit later, we turned around, and headed back the way we had come. When we reached the spot where she had picked the flower, she stopped, knelt, placed the flower on the grass, and gently patted it into the ground.

Given my overactive theological imagination, I could see her looking at me and saying, “There, that’s where it belongs! God planted it, we borrowed it for awhile to enjoy, and now it’s back in its place.”

Of course, I have no idea what Zoe was thinking. But it seems fair to say that something about the flower caught her attention and brought her delight. And it was fascinating that she put it back in the spot where she found it.

Spending time with a child opened my eyes anew to the eighth chapter of Proverbs. I was shown something of  “Lady Wisdom” and her delight in God’s world.

Proverbs 8 is a reading for Trinity Sunday because this day we stand in marvel before the mystery and marvel of God. The Feast of the Holy Trinity reminds us that we know only a tiny bit of the grandeur of the God we name One-in-Three, Three-in-One. This is a day we are reminded that no matter how old we may be, there is always more to know, new things to experience, and surprising joys to behold.

Sometimes I forget that. Sometimes I feel tired and old. Sometimes I lose sight of the mystery of the Trinity, and the marvel of creation. But a walk with a child opens me again to the delight and wonder that is all around us.

Seminary professor William P. Brown writes, ” . . . [A]ll knowledge and insight never arrive within a giving lifetime. The aged still have much to learn. As Wisdom’s growth begins in joy, may the wide-eyed delight of children never be lost on the wise. For in Wisdom’s eyes there are really no grown-ups. The quest for wisdom is ever ongoing, and progress on the path will always be marked with baby steps.”

Sometimes we fail to see the wonder of the world, and the One who made it. When that happens, walk with a child. Or at least, walk with child’s eyes. And you will be opened anew to the wonder of God.

To the joyous and astonishing mystery of the God we name Holy Trinity, be all honor and glory and power, forever and ever. Amen.

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