Yesterday I watched a bunch of six- and seven-year-old children jockey for positions at a table where they got to use an eyedropper to add vinegar, with a little food coloring added, to a tray of baking soda to watch little eruptions of colorful foam. Again, and again, and again. Their delight never waned. It was a little miracle right before their eyes.
A few feet away they built tube towers they could roll marbles down. Squeals of laughter erupted as the marble spun through the segment that made the wheel spin and when two marbles coming from different directions collided, forcing one to jump out of the structure and race across the floor.
Earlier that day they ate corn tortillas they pressed and baked themselves, and most of them ate two or three. Another remarkable experience.
We forget, as adults, that everything is new to them. They are still just discovering the world and they still see that it is good.
My grandpa used to delight in feeding pickles to babies. Babies get so much bland food that a dill pickle can cause their faces to contort in hilarious ways. Some babies loved the pickles. Others threw it on the floor as you can only do from a highchair. I always suspected that my grandpa tried to guess ahead of time which way the child would react. Watching him watch the babies was almost as good as watching the babies. He had found something that brought him delight well into old age.
A couple days ago I watched with amusement as three young men in their twenties spent close to ten minutes examining a huge cicada they found in the pool filter. They looked at it from every angle, turned it over, moved it where no one would step on it and admired the mechanics of its legs, the shimmer of its wings and talked about the sound it made when it was alive. I went and looked at it after they had finished their scrupulous examination. It was an impressive specimen.
Jesus told us to be salt and light to the world - that is, to make ordinary life better. Kids know how to do this. We should take note. . .