On our day off this past week my husband said he’d like to visit the Inland Botanic Gardens which are 10 minutes from our home so that he could take some photos. While ordinarily this suggestion would be no problem, this week we had the added consideration of school holidays and we therefore would have our 10 year old son with us. Neither of us thought that this expedition would be his idea of fun, and so we agreed that we would all go, but that we wouldn’t anticipate being there for more than an hour. We told Joshua the plan, and he was underwhelmed with the prospect, but we headed off anyway.
Once we arrived Joshua and I decided we would leave David to his creative endeavours and go exploring. I had resolved that I would need to try and find entertaining things to engage with but soon discovered how wrong I was. Together we spent time listening to the different sounds of the garden, checking out the animal prints on the ground and summarising what might have made them, admiring the flowers and various garden displays and imagining various scenarios.
I was enchanted to watch his imagination at work and his wonder at the natural world. The highlight was when we found a pine cone and watched how the seeds fell from it, spiralling to the ground. We played with this for some time, marvelling at the simplicity of the design. We were coming to the end of our allotted hour (which had felt like minutes) and so decided we should venture back to the car. Joshua did insist on collecting a few more pine cones on our way.
It was then that we discovered the beauty on the bottom of one of the pine cones. It is a gorgeous geometric pattern that we both decided reminded us of peacock feathers and we were captivated as to why an object so mundane had such elegance and design. This sparked a lovely conversation about our Creator God and the lovely touches of beauty that you can find if you choose to look. I was blessed to be able to see some of these marvels in this brief moment in time because I deliberately saw through the eyes of my child.
When we were almost back home, Joshua lamented how little time we spent in the gardens and asked if we could go back there, maybe this time with a picnic and for more time to explore. How reprimanded did I feel? My husband and I had assumed our technology-hungry cherub would not be engaged in the natural world and see any time forced to be there to be a punishment and a drain. Instead it was his engagement with the environment that led us to a theological conversation and reflection.
So my prayer is may I never be so ‘grown up’ that I don’t observe my surroundings with wonder, and may I never be so clever that I assume I know the response of those around me, even if they are my own offspring!