During Lent (21016) I am choosing forty pictures from my files, quite randomly, and writing some reflections, quite ramblingly.

This film image is from my days as a pastor in Vermont, thus the reflected image of the church in the puddle. The toddler is my grandson Ryan, now heading toward 16. I’ve treasured this picture sinEK_0087 (2).jpgce the day Seattle Filmworks developed, printed, and mailed it back to the manse in East Craftsbury. I look at it again today and still smile.

Here is a little boy exploring. Looking, touching, maybe, eventually, splashing, and hearing the puddle complain that its placid surface was marred by human curiosity.

Cropped out of the picture is Ryan’s Dad, who is smiling broadly at his son’s soppy investigation. I love that no one hindered the action seen here. His Dad didn’t say, “Don’t step in the puddle!”

His Mom didn’t worry about wet shoes, and his Nana didn’t complain he’d track mud into the house. I was too busy with the photo op to wonder about consequences.

Here is innocence, inquisitiveness, perhaps wonder. That boy is literally getting his feet wet with research. He stepped into the water and saw ripples. He bent over to see his reflection, and he touched the surface with both hands, and maybe even squeezed the muddy bottom. Squish. Splash. And laughter from the witnesses.

At my age I don’t know how much more time I have to explore new things, to venture beyond the ordinary, to look more deeply at life’s curiosities, to ponder mysteries, or take  leaps of faith that will prove worth some risk. It would be childish of me to stomp my foot into a puddle after the snow melts. But I can imagine myself stopping to explore the reflections I see on the surface, and maybe I’d lean over and touch the water like a child. (Wouldn’t that be a little like walking barefoot in the surf along some seashore? Just to get our feet wet? A little?)

Beyond puddles, there is a world to explore, to see in new ways, to touch and to feel, to breathe in, to listen to. To sample, to test. I’m guessing that that prompt is the child still deep inside us, and one who hears no cautioning voices that would hinder the new experiences that await.

It’s good to stay open to new things, look for puddles and oceans, observe and explore personally uncharted territory, and grow in understanding ourselves, as the decades pass.

Since there’s a reflection of the church in the photo above, it seems right to quote Jesus here: “…unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Squish. Splash. And laughter from all the witnesses.