Children have a way of naturally highlighting the deficiencies in their parents. Quite often these adult shortcomings are obvious to everyone except the specific parent in question. We parents get caught up in minutia, lunches, pick-ups, drop-offs, lost homework, lost shoes, bed time, sugar intake, oil changes, lessons, stop hitting, say thank you, and on, and on. It’s like running with your head down.
Then your six year old, the one who spends no time thinking about any of these things, asks, “Dad, have you ever been on top of a mountain?”
“Uhhhh, yes. Of course I have. On top of a mountain is in fact my favorite place to be. I would rather be on top of a mountain than anywhere else.”
My answer was a little indignant. Of course I’d been on a mountain. I grew up on a mountain. If I were to divide up my identity like a pie perhaps two of the six slices would be labeled “mountain man”. It was not till that moment, sitting in a car in the suburbs, that I realized my child had never been on a mountain. She had never seen me on a mountain. Never sat on the summit and felt the joy of looking out over the world. The simultaneous peace and excitement felt when the ground drops away in all directions.
I have never given that little girl that experience.
Or a pony.
Or a marshmallow the size of a house.
She is deprived.
“Are we on a mountain now?”
“No, we are in a Target parking lot.”
“I want to go on top of a mountain. Can I go on top of that mountain?”
She was pointing up at Mt. Baldy.
“Maybe once you get bigger you can go up there.”
“Have you been up there?”
“No… No I have not.”
Not only have I not been on top of Mt. Baldy but I haven’t been anywhere for far too long. No, strike that. I haven’t been nowhere for a very long time. I had spent so long, and my children have spent their entire lives, living in a place that is so much somewhere that getting to nowhere is quite hard.
I had never taken the six year old to nowhere.
I do not live nowhere now. Nor do I live somewhere. We live in between.
Repentance doesn’t happen overnight but you must start right away. My supplication for outdoor forgiveness began in small steps; steps about the size of six year old legs.
Mount Rubidoux in nearby Riverside has a summit of only 1,329 feet. It has a paved trail. It has a tower, a cross, a large American flag, and on one Saturday morning, a very proud little girl.