Reaching for the Moon

Feb 8, 2012
“Where my moon?” he asks, one hand raised slightly, palm up. His other hand grips a freeze pop wrapped in a paper towel that serves no purpose for a two-year-old boy. The syrup soaks his hands and face. “Keep looking, Ian.  Did you check higher up?” So far, his eyes have scanned only as high as the housetops, but he has been diligent in his moon-gazing for a while. On an almost daily basis, he looks for its arrival when the sun begins its descent. A short shallow gasp precedes a wide smile and I know he’s found it. “There it is!” he shouts, pointing with both his freeze pop and his free hand, spilling grape syrup on the walkway and the front lawn. We stand still for a moment, my little son teaching me wisdom through his wonder-filled gaze and awestruck admiration for this lesser light. I crouch down, lowering myself to his eye level, feebly attempting to tap into his deep curiosity. He leans against me, but never diverts his eyes from the moon. I look up as he does, but my eyes come back to him, in wonder of him as he wonders at the moon. Suddenly excited, Ian turns and asks, “I touch it?”  “Sure.  Reach high,” I tell him.  His little legs strain and stretch, he moves to his tiptoes and extends his arms, grasping with his fingers, as if he’s mere inches away.  He drops back down, turns to me and says, with a smile on his face, “Nope.”  I cannot help but laugh, as not a twinge of disappointment flavors his voice. He simply returns to gazing. After a brief pause, I ask, “Should we try again tomorrow?” Still smiling, he replies, “Yep!”, and we head to the porch. I could have taken the time to describe his limitations, to tell him that gravitational pull, planetary orbit, and sheer distance were working against him. In other words, I could have implemented any number of modernist explanations that would crush his imagination and wonder. Perhaps I could have taken the approach of pointing out that, indeed, man has gone to the moon and, therefore, it’s no longer that exciting. But, in that moment, I realized that I was the uninformed one. I was the one who needed more understanding, more wisdom, better perspective. I held my tongue to appear wise, submitting to the lesson of a two-year-old master teacher. As he gains years, I pray that he keeps the wisdom he already has; while becoming a man, I pray he remains a child. Ian will grow older (he is turning three this very week) but in the memory of such moments he will always be my teacher, reaching for the moon.
Brian  Phillips

Brian Phillips

Dr. Brian Phillips is the Director of CiRCE Consulting & the Headmaster of the CiRCE Academy.  He also serves as a pastor in Concord, NC, where he lives with his wife and their four children.

The opinions and arguments of our contributing writers do not necessarily reflect those of the Institute or its leadership.

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Angela, there is hope, even for older students who have lost a bit of their wonder and imagination. In many ways, it begins with admitting what has happened and how. If your older children are still in school, you may want to talk with them about this specifically and, if you are homeschooling, make an effort to work in great books that feed the imagination. Make family time that will get them outside and away from the things that sap our imaginations. It will take a good bit of time and effort, but it can be restored.

Great article! Our two year old, Scottlyn, has loved "Luna" ever since she first saw her. We tell her not the things we "know" — those things you describe — but the things that have been revealed to us. God puts her away during the day and takes her out at night. We have gotten to explain that we don't know God's ways (when she's out during the day) and that we only know what He tells us. The magic is there still for her because the magic is REAL. Why ruin it with "what we know?"

You could be describing me in that second to the last older children have been well crushed, I'm afraid. Is there any way to recover what has been lost?? Thankfully God, in His great mercy, has given me a whole handful of younger children too. May I have more wisdom with the little ones.