So apparently, on St. Patrick’s Day, preschoolers get really excited about leprechauns secretly visiting us and making mischief for us. (As a mom of two young ones, I truly am learning something new every day!) Our little girl went to school this morning with a green striped dress, white frilly socks (a la Irish lace), and my green glitter hairband in her gingery brown curls. I, of course, am wearing green myself as a celebration of the whatever percentage of Irish that ancestry.com discovered in my genes.
And, right around lunch-time, I had the sudden pressing need to stop by our local drugstore and buy St. Patrick’s Day goodies to surprise Little One when she returned from school. I found shamrock socks, glitter shamrock and rainbow stickers, and a few other creative activities to keep her preoccupied and delighted while Mommy and Daddy finish their respective workdays. And then I saw friends posting pictures of leprechaun “footprints” around their homes—much like the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus making a visit and leaving surprises. So here I sit with the sides of my hands covered in dried, bright green paint from making tiny faux footprints on paper cut-outs strewn around my office floor. And there was gold glitter, too. And I love it. Because in creating joy for her, I also found great joy myself.
So how did this desire to be so festive all of a sudden emerge?
Because I’ve been preparing to teach a class this evening at church on a “Lenten journey through Narnia,” and tonight’s topic is “Living with What We’ve Been Given” . . . or contentment. And there’s a question from the study guide about “Do today’s children get too many toys or too much amusement?” The answer could be Yes—with all of the gadgets and tech toys and privilege that some in this world do enjoy. But the answer is also No. We need to let our children be children. To delight in Play—which is also Work for the child, as Madeline L’Engle said somewhere in her book Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art. We need to let children revel in imagination and creativity and joy. To celebrate when we have the chance to celebrate. And we adults need that, too, quite often. And it’s our mission, too, to help others find ways to celebrate and live in the fullness of life . . . this life with its soaring heights and painful depths, its darkness and its light.
So let’s get messy with paint and glitter, and let’s celebrate St. Patrick’s Day or something—anything. Let’s get lost in bringing joy to another, and may leprechauns surprise us with joy ourselves.