Friday, June 2, 2017

Living Joyfully in Hope


Recently, while at the library, my daughter brought over the book La semilla de zanahoria, feeling nostalgia for her first years of school at a dual language English-Spanish school. Though we had read the book together years ago, I had forgotten what this simple text was about. As we re-read I thought about the connections to faith. 

In the book, copyrighted in 1945, The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss has just one sentence on each two-fold spread pages until the last pages where the single sentence is stretched out over multiple spreads. It begins with a boy who plants a carrot seed. His mom and dad let him know they are "afraid" it won't grow and the big brother definitively says, "It won't come up." Nonetheless, the boy cares for the area where he planted the seed and maintains hope, despite being surrounded by people saying it won't grow. There are two pages saying that it did not grow followed by a page where everyone reiterates it will not, but he perseveres and continues caring and hoping. Then, the shift in the book occurs. The one sentence pattern switches to the concluding stretched out sentence where all the boy's hope pays off - a carrot comes up, and not just any carrot, but a huge carrot that he has to tow away in a wheel barrow. 

When we went to the library, I had recently heard a homily from a visiting priest focusing on John 16:16-20. He had talked about different potential interpretations of what Jesus meant by "A little while and you will no longer see me, and again a little while later and you will see me" and that something woven through the different interpretations is the essence of the Christian experience. We are called to wait in joyful hope throughout all different scenarios in life, such as shifts between light//darkness and happiness//sadness. 

I like how seemingly simple children's books that aren't even explicitly about faith can still inform Christian values - thinking about persevering even when there are not immediate signs that something is working or having the effect we hope it would. While the huge carrot at the end is an exaggeration and not realistic, it can be used to illustrate how when we have faith and continue doing the next thing whether we are in phases of consolation or spiritual dryness, God is working all things for our good (Romans 8:28). Whether or not we can see the fruits of our labor, we can commit to praying, to trusting, and to seeking to align our lives to God's will by deciding which voices to listen to and which to silence as we lean into God throughout the discernment process. 

Which books do you appreciate for what they can offer related to Christian values for different age ranges? 

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