contagious joy

As we shuffle our way from the car to the library, he pushes on me, anxious to get out of my arms. He doesn’t want to be carried. He wants to explore.

When we get in the doors, I put him down, and he takes off with a blissful waddle.

As he walks, he is caught up in his surroundings. The light is beaming through the windows and showing him the way. The ledge where the heat vents reside is beckoning him to climb up. The lines between the tiles are asking him to jump over.

Even the walk before we get to the toys is an adventure to my little guy.

As he explores, though, he forgets to watch for people. He bumps into legs of the man carrying his books. He cuts off the path of the teenage girl. Yet, they don’t seem to mind. The same thing that could cause a “hmph” or an angry glare if done by an adult, don’t have the same effect when they are done by this child.

Because when they bump into him, they bump into his joy. And it rubs off. It is amazing how contagious a smile can be.

When we get to the play area, his enthusiasm reaches a new level. He proclaims “Choo choos! Choo choos!” in a decibel not even close to the whisper requested for such a location. Yet the response is not head shakes and hushes; it is grins and chuckles.  

He sees a chair his size. His eyes become saucers, “Chair! Chair!” He giggles as I pull it close, then sits proudly upon his throne. The trains come alive and spittle covers the table as his tongue vibrates the “lmbpf” noises of a motor. As I look around, I notice that he is not just bringing the toys to life. He is bringing life to all who are sitting in that little corner of the library.

And slowly, I come alive, too. I catch the joy.

At first, the joy eludes me. The morning hadn’t gone the way I wanted it to. I was frustrated. The library was my escape. I see my son through those tainted lenses.

But finally, after he spreads his joy to enough others, I catch it, too.

I begin to see the wonder of a child who treats the simplest of moments as the greatest of pleasures. Who approaches old and ordinary places as if they are amusements built just for him. Who smiles at strangers and brings life to dead places.

And I wonder if this is what Jesus meant when he said our faith should be like that of a child. The faith to trust our futures to God so we can fully revel in our present circumstances. The faith to use our imagination to bring life to the world around us. The faith to look at the people and see potential community instead of potential rejection.

The faith to spread joy to a world in desperate need of a smile.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. – Romans 15:13

Have you caught joy from someone recently? How can you spread joy today?