During Lent, my husband and I met Sarah at “Soup and Stations of the Cross”. Sarah is 8 years old and in third grade but carried herself like she was about 30 and this soup supper was her evening to network. Sitting down at our table, she began by asking us where we work and explaining where she had gone to a birthday party earlier that week. “The skate factory — have you been there? You go past the high school and make a left onto 23rd street.” This girl was so much more with it than I was at 6:27 p.m. on a Friday evening.
“Let’s change the subject” she announced, once careers and schedules had been exhausted. “What’s your favorite owl movie?” she queried.
“Uh, Winnie the Pooh?” There was an owl in that one, right?
Sarah gave me a withering look. “No,” she explained patiently. “I mean, what’s your favorite owl movie where the owl is the main character?”
I was totally lost, but Jim bounced right back with, “Why don’t you tell us what your favorite owl movie is where the owl is the main character?”
Why hadn’t I thought of that? Sarah, pleased at this invitation, launched into an explanation of “Legend of the Guardians” which is, apparently, an owl movie with owls as the main characters. It was a genre that, until Friday night, I had been woefully uninformed about.
“Sarah’s got that movie on the brain,” her mom explained. “She spent spring break organizing and was so excited to find that hidden away! It’s not bad, do you want to borrow it?”
Jim and I declined the offer, but we couldn’t stop chuckling about the conversation. Kids really do say the darndest things, and they will get straight to the point they’re trying to make.
In contrast, I sometimes hesitate and worry about social convention, especially when it comes to sharing my faith or inviting people to events at church. I can get awfully tongue-tied and nervous, and I’m practically a professional Catholic!
I couldn’t help but think that Sarah’s bluntness was one of the attributes that Christ ascribed to children when he told his disciples that “unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 18:3). Sarah had owls on her mind after discovering a favorite DVD, and she didn’t hesitate to direct the conversation right where she wanted it to go.
Is Christ on my mind? Even more, do I look for opportunities to talk about Him? I don’t mean standing on a street corner, preaching fire and brimstone. But when it comes to conversations with friends, family and even strangers, do I look for opportunities to share how my Catholic faith impacts my life?
Sarah was ready to talk about owls because it’s all she thought about that week. In the same way, the first step in sharing our faith isn’t necessarily opening our mouths, it’s living it day in and day out. When prayer, the sacraments and works of mercy become foundational in our lives, talking about the faith behind our actions comes naturally.
Children have a lot to teach us.