When I was a boy, Mom wouldn’t let me and my siblings go barefoot until after Easter. I’m not sure of the edict’s origin, but it is akin to the Southern dictum that forbids wearing white until Memorial Day. All I know is that it was a rite of spring that was passed down from her mother and grandmother.
The bottoms of our feet would toughen in a few weeks, but until then we looked like carnival performers walking across broken glass. Being barefoot was worth the initial discomfort.
The weather warmed. We spent more time playing outside. The quality of the rough and tumble of the day was marked by the amount of dirt on my feet. As the sun began to sink, I would while away the final rays of light with my toes wiggling in cool grass, lying on my back set to count stars as night fell.
A child passing time in this simple way, I believe, pleases God. Four-year-old grandson Roger understands this joy of simple living.
Of my son and daughter-in-law’s three children, Roger is the one who is most often blurred in group photos. He is seldom still. It is not fidgetiness but more of a restlessness that comes from a keen passion for adventure. He finds joy in jumping, bouncing, climbing, sliding, and running. But he is not reckless; in fact he is the only one of the three children who has not broken a bone.
Being a long distance grand-parent, I keep up with my Texas grandchildren on Instagram, using FaceTime and by pictures emailed from their mom and dad. Pictures of Roger always make me smile.
Most photos of Roger feature him appearing like Mowgli in Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book, but instead of a jungle, he is in his suburban backyard.
Bare feet are his preference and shirts are always optional. A recent picture has his head peeping out from his blue nylon hammock we gave him for Christmas.
Another is one of him running across the yard playing tag with his older brother Stuart – both boys barefoot and shirtless. The most memorable one is him jumping on his backyard trampoline with a huge smile, shirtless, arms raised, wearing only white undershorts.
Roger seems to drink up happiness. So, what is his secret?
First, Roger doesn’t worry about anything. He has great parents who take care of him. He is safe and loved.
Next, Roger believes he can. He is told by his parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles that he is able to dream and be and become whatever he wants.
And finally, he makes joy a priority. There are lots of things that fill his days and could distract him, but Roger never forgets to be happy.
Scripture teaches that joy comes from trusting God. Jesus admonishes us to not worry about our life. “Look at the birds of the sky: they don’t sow, or reap, or gather into barns, yet your Heavenly Father feeds them.” He then reminds us how God values us even more.
Believing we can is so important. Having someone else believe we can launches a world of possibilities. When Peter asked if he could walk on the water, Jesus said, “Come.” Scripture teaches we “can do all things” in Christ. Jesus believes we can!
The Psalmist reminds us to “delight in the Lord.” Trust and be happy. Remember what it’s like to be a child sometimes. It pleases our Heavenly Father.