“I want to do something splendid…something heroic or wonderful that won’t be forgotten after I’m dead. I don’t know what, but I’m on the watch for it and mean to astonish you all someday.”
― Louisa May Alcott, Little Women
The days of living in the beautiful valley in Thompson’s Station, Tennessee are slowly coming to an end. I soak in each day’s gift of smells, sounds, and scenery. I know the sting of pain that comes when the children all leave and our parched land no longer bears the brunt of little feet and voices. I have felt it before, and I know the emptiness that will inevitably fill the place where daily hugs and kisses have been. Despite my love for freckled faces and sun-kissed smiles, today, I am tired. My heart and mind are wandering as I stand on the edge of the lake. My kids pay no mind– they are wrapped up in their own worlds–they are pirates, princesses, and indians. One, however, separates himself from the rest. With downcast eyes he slowly and carelessly covers his legs with grains of sand.
“Preston,” I say to him, “What’s the matter, buddy?” I crouch down beside him. His long, dark lashes bounce in response as he diverts those beautiful brown eyes of his.
“I’m just worried about my cousin. He doesn’t know Jesus. And…and…I just really want him to know God. We need to be telling everyone about Jesus.”
I am taken aback, and I sit down fully beside him. Running my fingers through his head of dark hair, my heart begins to overflow with the truth that this six year old speaks. We talk for a long while, and it is like my Lord is speaking directly to me. Eventually, we bow our heads and pray. Our heads and spirits lifted, I ask him,
“Preston, what do you want to be when you grow up?”
“A priest. I just want everyone to know how much God loves us.”
Here is what I know about children. They believe they can be anything they want. I have spent hours upon hours canoeing little ones around the little lake at Deer Run, and not a day has gone by when I haven’t seized the opportunity to ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I have heard a myriad of answers: baseball player, fighter pilot, police officer, teacher, artist–camp counselor usually makes the list as well. What I have discovered in their answers, however, is that they usually have sufficient reasoning. Preston, for instance, had a burning inside him that he probably couldn’t explain at six years old. It was placed in him purposefully though by His creator. Another little girl looked at me recently and said, “I’m going to be an artist when I grow up. That’s why I am so good at art and craft time.” I could go on and write of little boys telling me they want to protect people or little girls telling me that they want to take care of animals (after spending thirty minutes talking about different breeds of dogs).
Deep down, I think we all know what we want to be when we grow up. And if we don’t, I think we can simply look back at what we believed at six years old. Did you paint? write? talk incessantly? Did you feel inspired when you read books on reptiles or cars? What did you want to be when you were little? When I was a little girl, I would take my mother’s book of poetry out and sit under a tree. The words inspired me, and they made me feel as if my own words could be inspiring as well.
When I grow up…I want to still see the world like a six year old.