Tumbling in the Sand
Okay, first of all, I can’t believe how easy it was to find pictures of hippos and doughnuts together. The internet is a strange and wondrous place…
So, back to the reflection at hand. This week, I’ve gotten to do chapel with our preschool kids. It’s always an interesting game to figure out how to keep the attention of fifty or so four-year olds and thirty or so three year olds for more than about three seconds. I always enjoy it.
I have found one song that is always a hit, though. It’s one I learned up at Calumet, a Lutheran church camp up in New Hampshire. And it’s awesome (the song and the camp). The song because 1) it has actions, 2) the kids get to jump around in church, 3) it has hippos, and 4) it’s actually pretty good theology. Here it is:
In the beginning, God made the seas
And the forests filled with trees
God made the mountains up so high
Above them all, God made the sky.
God’s fingerprints are everywhere
just to show how much God cares.
And in between, he had lots of fun
He made a hippo that weighed a tonne!
Hip-hip-hooray, God made all us!
hip-hip-hooray! God made all us!
The actions, you can imagine. Waves for the sea, lots of little trees made from fingers for the trees, arms creating a peak for the mountains, hands sweeping in a big arc above your head for the sky. Fingerprints are fun to make all over everything, and a great big self-hug to show God’s care … and then we get to the kids favorite part: jumping up and down with the hip-hip-hoorays!
I love that we can teach kids early that it’s okay to have fun in church. I think too often they are told to be quiet, to be still, to listen, to stop rustling … that this is a holy place, a serious place … and pretty soon, it feels like a place where a kid doesn’t get to be a kid. A place where being a kid isn’t welcome. A place where kids aren’t welcome. What every happened to the idea that God had fun? And there is an aspect of holiness that is sheer delight? Even the psalmist writes that God made the leviathan for the sport of it (Psalm 104:26). And we are encouraged by Paul in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 to be cheerful givers.
The second song that I taught the kids this time around is also funny … but serious too. It’s called the Doughnut Song. The words are:
Life without Jesus is like a doughnut
like a doughnut, like a doughnut
Life without Jesus is like a doughnut
There’s a hole in the middle of your heart
It might be okay for awhile,
Then the truth will wipe away your smile
There’s something sad inside of me I can’t control
When I think about a doughnut hole!
I know there are more verses to this song … something about a soda without the bubbles and life being flat without Jesus. It’s a lot of fun.
I think it is critical to weave the silly and the serious together. I think it gives us a fuller view of the holy and life. It can teach us to laugh with tears. It can teach us hope in the midst of really hard things. It can teach us how to let the shadows and the light dance together in our lives.
When we learn this in a song, we learn it in a safe place. I think it’s something that we have to learn in hard places in life: at funerals for instance, when we find ourselves laughing at memories of a loved one as they lay in the casket in front of the room. And that is a place where it is so important to hold laughter and tears together. And if we don’t learn that it’s okay in a safe place, like a song, we will find it really hard and uncomfortable, even, when we need the two together to give us life.
There’s other places in our lives that I think God gives us laughter that blends with tears and anger in order to give us the strength, humility and life we need to keep going. Especially in places in need of justice. I think that’s why anywhere power is exercised, there are jesters, comedians, and jokers to make fun. And why dictators and people who desperately want to hang on to control hate humor so much. It allows us to see the clothes-less emperor. It allows us to sense the truth: that the powers and dominions of this world crumble in the face of a God who plays with sea creatures and delights in making hippos. A God who leave fingerprints (like a young creative child) everywhere. And a God who we can join in making all things new.