There’s something about a child’s uninhibited joy that’s contagious. It bubbles up and out of them, spilling into the room and washing over anyone nearby. Smiles are everywhere.
I was blessed to witness two of these moments last month.
You know how kids, when they’re young enough, have no concept of being a spectacle? That there’s no such thing as “I can’t do that, everyone will see”? God, I love that attitude.
Both of these moments happened during a church service. Now, a lot of the Praise Team songs have a good tempo and strong beat, so I’m not surprised they appeal to kids. But you know you’ve got something special going on when they actually get up and dance.
One week it was a beautiful girl, about eight years old, lovely as can be. I looked up from my music to see that she’d stepped into the area behind the chairs and was twirling – twirling! – to the music. She had this sweet smile on her face and radiance poured off her in waves. She was tucked away to the side of the congregation so not everyone was watching her, which means people might have wondered why I was suddenly singing through a smile.
But oh, did she make me smile.
Another time it was a first grade boy. One of the children’s groups had joined us for the morning so the front row was filled with small bodies, precious in their khakis and choir shirts. Little people swinging their feet, elbowing one another when they thought their parents weren’t watching, waiting for their turn to sing.
One young cherub – just kidding, he’s a scamp, but he’s got a grin that melts your heart – particularly enjoyed the music. His options were limited seeing as he was seated rather conspicuously front and center with his group, so he decided to go with chair dancing. Mid-song I looked down to see him jamming away, pumping his arms and nodding his head to the beat. He was grinning from ear to ear, dancing with the friend next to him.
Abundant joy. Moments so filled with delight that those kids couldn’t possibly contain it. Kids who haven’t yet been taught to tamp down that delight into polite listening.
Seeing that kind of unbridled pleasure in a child is one of the greatest gifts. One that reminds us all to let go just a little more, not worry about being a spectacle, and just be.
Amen to that.