When I was a kid I loved fireworks, but somewhere along the journey I stopped seeing the magic in them. Four years of college went by without me seeing them or missing them for that matter. This may not outwardly seem like a big deal, but to me, it was. I felt like something was missing, something bigger than this past excitement over some lights in the sky. Last summer my firework enthusiasm came back. And it was brought back to life by children.
I was at a Tigers game with some friends and three kids I once babysat. One of the little girls, who is developmentally disabled, sat on my lap, and her brother and sister sat next to me. Throughout the entire show they kept squealing and laughing and in awe. The brother kept asking how fireworks worked, and when the grand finale was over they were left wanting more. Jesse, the little girl sitting on my lap, squirmed around and held her hands over her mouth as she giggled. Their delight was contagious; I couldn’t keep the smile off of my face. I realized something huge about myself that night.
I had let things that were once extraordinary to me turn into the ordinary.
To the children I was with the fireworks were extraordinary. To them the colored fire in the sky was this unexplainable phenomenon, like a miracle. To me, this was just a bit of well thought out chemistry that was pleasing to the eyes. As each firework exploded in the air I could see the shadows of the men igniting them from below. I became aware I had stopped delighting in the things that were explainable.
I’m not saying I was not to blame for losing my intrigue with beauty, but I think I was in part a victim of culture. I believe we are living in a science and logic driven culture where awe is taken out of things. Once we can explain how something works, we do not continue to be amazed by it. The aim of science today is to more fully comprehend the way many things work in nature, and by all means the pursuit of truth through science is a noble cause. However, having scientific or logical explanations for the existence of fireworks, sunrises, sunsets or an old oak tree, shouldn’t make these things any less amazing or beautiful.
On top of all this, current scientific trends tend to support research fully explaining the once unexplainable. I think sometimes we just have a puzzle piece and give up on the search for truth without pursuing or seeing the entire picture. Just because science can begin to explain how and/or why something happens the way it does, does not mean we understand something in entirety. Maybe true science is an ongoing quest for truth that keeps getting closer and closer to it—humbly admitting we don’t know everything yet, and fearlessly driven towards the truth.
Leading up to this fateful night at Comerica Park, I had heard people use the phrase, “faith as a child.” It always seemed to be in the context of believing in something without thinking and dismissing science or logic, but I think through my observations this phrase means a little something different. First, the children were inquisitive; they wanted to know how the process of creating fireworks happened. I don’t think we’re intended to be a people that watch things happen and not ask “Why?” or “How?” We are supposed to be curious and analytical.
Next, these kids really couldn’t get enough of the fireworks. They kept going off, and even though they all seemed the same, they were none the less excited. Maybe having “faith as a child” means taking joy in something as if we were experiencing it for the first time. It is my theory that nothing the same happens twice. No two sunsets are 100 percent alike; no day can be 100 percent like the latter. The sun rises and sets, the same process, but different every time. Though days and months and years are cyclical in nature, each second, each feeling, each thought, each experience, each sensation is different. I do not think this cyclical nature of life is fatalistic, but moreover one to be delighted in.
Perhaps having “faith like a child” really means we are intended to ask questions and dig deeper while simultaneously delighting in the processes we have only begun to understand. Maybe curiosity and delight in beauty are pleasing to God.