In her latest Share Your Stories post, Holly Elissa Bruno reflects on how children ask multitudes of questions about the world around them. Read on and examine the ways you can slow down your need for answers and instead, with children, seek the meaning of things and open a whole new world. Join in conversation with Holly Elissa and share your thoughts on the second chances you’ve encountered after you stopped answering and started wondering and discovering.
Seeking Sacred Ground
Children ask: “What’s that?” We tell them. Simple as that: that’s a marshmallow, a firefly, a doorbell, a sea gull, a Baltimore oriole. We know answers. The children trust us to know or to help them find the answers. Children believe what we say. But what else is going on inside the children? If we were to go there, we would discover a process from which we might find a second chance to see our world anew.
I marveled, “What’s that?” as my parents drove by a curious one-story churchlike structure between Big Flats and Horseheads, near our house in the upstate New York countryside. My father responded: “Holy rollers.”
I had already learned my father had a quotient: he could be asked one question. But I had many more questions: Do they have a gym inside? What makes rolling “holy”? Could I become “holy” rolling?
I needed answers. I had just learned the “forward roll” at school. That roll was easy. Now my quest was to do the holy roll and maybe see the gates of Heaven. Wow! I pictured exactly how I would roll, where I would roll, and when I could roll, undisturbed by nay-saying adults.
I waited for my opportunity at our church. My mother, a devoted “church lady” with shoes dyed to match her floral hats (always set off by white gloves), frequently “did things” at the church. While she “did things,” my plan was to silently make my way to the back of the sanctuary from where blue-carpeted floors sloped down to the chancel. There I would wad up in a ball and forward roll my way into the Kingdom. Soon enough, my time had come.
Late afternoon sunlight slanted through the parable stained glass windows. The organist, Mrs. Holman, was not there to practice rousing Bach fugues, although I could feel the vibration in my bones as I prepared to roll. And roll I did, tumbling over and over, down the aisle stopping only when I bumped abruptly into the barrier around the altar.
Because I knew no adult who could help me make sense of what had happened, I stored this experience inside me. It was one of my many attempts as a child to discover sacred ground.
Children are always questing to make sense of their world. When they ask: “What’s that?” we can join them on their quest. Why is that yummy squishy white part of a s’more named a marshmallow? Do Baltimore orioles live in Baltimore? Why is that moss named “Hessian Soldier” moss?
We can reclaim our “beginner’s mind” by putting aside answers and seeking the meaning. In the process, we give ourselves a second chance. We too can see the world anew. We can marvel at the naming of things. We can be on a roll.
Share your story of:
- Discovering something on your own as a child.
- A time when you marveled as a child marvels at seeing something familiar (to you) as if for the first time.
- How might you give yourself a second chance today to discover or uncover the precious in the familiar?
As I hear your stories, perhaps I’ll tell you about the time I asked my Sunday School teacher to explain the physical process Nicodemus went through to be born again.
BY LEAVING A COMMENT, I hereby give my permission to Redleaf Press to use my story and quote me (all names will be changed) in Holly Elissa Bruno’s upcoming book on second chances, including in all revised editions of the book, in all formats (including print and electronic) now known or developed in the future, in all languages and territories, and in any other subsidiary editions of the book, and in promotional materials published by Redleaf Press, as it sees fit.
If you’re new to Holly Elissa Bruno’s Share Your Stories series, you can learn more about the project here and read previous posts here. We invite you to share as often and openly as you want—on this post, previous posts, and future posts. Your comments will provide Holly Elissa with unique insight as she writes her next book, and she looks forward to continuing the conversation after the book is published.