I’ve pontificated before on this blog about the spectre of death and my children’s conciousness. My wife and I sidestepped (a nice way of saying changed or lied about) death in several Bible stories read to our eldest. But what started a week ago as sighting a dead bird has snowballed in my daughter’s mind to questions of human mortality. “Who will care for my stuffed animals when I die?"
The event is more beautiful and horrifying than I anticipated. With death on the horizon we live life more ardently but seeing the mind opened to The Fall is enough to make one tremble. I encounter news of tragedy every day, however it’s a slow harvest of bad news (most of the time). For the first time vistas of pain and suffering are now clear to my daughter. Everything tragic introduced at once: all things decay and die. 3 weeks ago all animals were happy and likely people’s ages were fairly static for her. The world has changed. I’m sure she doesn’t fully comprehend our collective mortality (do any of us?), but real fear is evident.
My beautiful wife briefly explained the narrative of redemptive history to my daughter when she started asking questions about death. I thank God that my daughter was not in a daycare when these questions surfaced. I struggle imagining what response she’d hear or what uncomfortable brush-off she would receive. Label: morbid child.
As a coincidence (is there such a thing?) we’ve recently started reading a pericope or two a night in the gospel accounts. With each reading the Gospel is explained in part and the wife and I pray for this little one to take hold of it.
Chesterton pointed out that the attraction of children’s stories lies in the secret magic behind the ordinary. “These every-day beans grow a stalk tall enough to reach the giant’s castle.” OR: “At the stroke of midnight the carriage and men will return to a pumpkin and mice.” But there IS magic behind the ordinary (see: post-synapse protiens resistent to change). And so as terrifying as is death stalking us, her eyes will grow to see the beauty of this fallen world, still laden with magic…a man and woman reached for an apple and destroyed the world. The Man took Adam’s place dying on a tree, but lives.