It was an enjoyable experience all around; an afternoon I'll probably always look back on as a precious photograph of our life at this stage. The weather was gentle and pleasant. Ryan and I worked together- sometimes talking, regularly conferring, helping each other, and often lapsing into companionable silence. Eowyn woke from her nap about half-way through the process, and the real fun began. I can still taste the sweetness of watching her watch me, and trying to do just what I did. No matter that Mommy had a spade and she had only hands-- she can take that brown stuff out of the sack and put it in the wooden box, too! Oh for the heart of a child, to be so content with the simple gifts our Father daily gives; the cool crumbliness of dirt; the thrill of alternately creating chaos and order with sticks and bucket; the music of seeds in paper packets; the confidence that a tiny voice pleading a tiny word- "Up!" will be answered by a Father; and, most precious to me today, the delight found in imitating those whose love we treasure and whom we deem "Great."
We laughed as she repeated the last word of each of Daddy's phone-conversation phrases "cool!" "okay." "ba-bye" We smiled as she wanted a turn to hold the tools we used. Our hearts warmed as they usually do when she wanted to be near us, to be with us, to be as near our hearts as possible (in our arms). It also made me catch my breath She's watching you-- all the time! Be careful what you say and do-- or even when you sigh or frown. Woah. As I think about it now, though, the realization is pressing me a different way: My daughter loves to be near me. With me. More-- she wants to be like me. If watching her try to be like me is such a delight... how much does the Lord long for His children to be like Him?
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God [...] Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Eph. 4:30-5:2, NIV)This passage came to my mind, and as I read it I realized just how many nuances there are to it... The Spirit of our Father can be grieved by our conduct; when we don't imitate the elder Brother (Jesus) who loved us, gave Himself up for us, and bought our ultimate, never-ending, pure-joy forgiveness from God our Father. We're supposed to imitate Him. Why? How? Because we're dearly loved children; it seems like that's the answer to both questions: we should imitate as beloved sons & daughters do, and we should imitate because we are God's children, and so should have the family trait of dying-to-self-love. Doing this is "fragrant" -pleasing, pleasant- to our Daddy, just as our elder Brother's sacrificial death was to God.
I guess I'm spiritually gardening in both directions, trying both to model and to imitate. I'm trying to plant seeds in my daughter's life by providing an GOOD example to follow. At the same time, I'm trying to cultivate imitation in my own heart-- imitation of my Father & my Brother. Both are done only in the Power of the Helper, the Promised Holy Spirit, because both will be nothing short of miraculous.
Not by might, not by power, but by Thy Spirit! (Zechariah 4:6)
(Note the dirt on her face: she was quite filthy, as every healthy child should be on a lovely day, I think!... =D)