Thursday, September 2, 2010

Thoughtful About . . . Limits

Last weekend, we had dinner down at my grandparents' farm. It's nestled in a bend of the Potomac River, a little outcropping of West Virginia completely surrounded by Maryland. Mountains rise up all around their couple-hundred-acres of relative flatland, creating a vista I enjoyed for most of life from the nearby hill, where my parents lived.

On another relative-flat section on top of the hill, there's a little regional airport. Right across the river there's Cumberland's train yard--and a four-land highway. So on this pretty little farm that you might think is isolated, you can hear and see all the signs of civilization. One of my friends once commented, "You can't walk anywhere but to the nearest tree out here, yet I'm afraid an airplane's going to hit me in the head." =)

The kids were all outside playing after dinner--but it was hot, and that didn't last long. Not for most of them. Rowyn, however, refused to come inside when the girls called it quits. Though a safe area, I didn't want to leave him out there alone simply because the boy has no fear--who knows what he would chase to who-knows-where. So Mommy sucked up her distaste for extreme heat and went outside.

Rowyn was standing with head craned back. After greeting me, he pointed to the sky. "Airplanes up there," he informed me.

I grinned. "Yep, there are airplanes up there."

He kept on looking. "Rowyn go up there too."

I chuckled. "Oh yeah?"

He nodded and turned his attention to . . . the top of the house? "Rowyn go on roof to see airplanes."

Visions of two-year-olds scaling the siding in my head, I shook my head. "How are you going to get on the roof, Rowyn?"

Picture an exaggerated toddler shrug. "Don't know either," he said. ("Either" is a new word for him, and he uses it lavishly.) "Climb ladder. Where's ladder, Mommy?"

Mommy, praising her grandparents for hiding all large tools and equipment away in the garages and sheds and barns, looked around and was happy to pronounce, "I don't see a ladder."

Rowyn sighed and stomped over to the side of the house. After studying it for a minute--the little wrought-iron bench, the chimney, the plants--he pointed to a high-reaching flowering bush. "Rowyn climb flowers up there."

I laughed--I couldn't help it. And I delighted in the imagination, the determination of a toddler. But more, it brought me back to that feeling of no limits. That feeling that the world is yours for the taking, if only you find that magic beanstalk leading you up to the clouds.

Yes, we have limits. We learn, we experience, and we realize that some things are impossible. We just can't climb a flimsy flower up to the roof--and if we got up there, we still wouldn't be close to the airplanes. But how often do we use that experience and idea of limits to not even try to reach our dreams? How often do we leave it at "Nope, can't get up there this way" and not consider that we could take this other path, and arrive at the airport? That we could dig a ladder out, if the roof was our goal?

I think when the Lord called us to have childlike faith, this is what he was talking about. How like my little boy do we look to God? Trying to use our reason, our logic, to get to a goal, when reason and logic won't get us anywhere close? How often does He shake his head and smile at us, knowing that even if He gave us the ladder we asked for, it wouldn't get us where we want to go? But if we trust in Him--if we hold fast to the dreams He's given us--maybe He'll send a car to take us to the airport we didn't know was there. Or show us, if we make it to the roof, that that was where we needed to get to all along.

The world has limits . . . and it has history that shows us they can be broken and overcome.

My prayer today is that we all recapture a bit of that two-year-old wonder and find a flower to climb up to our dreams.


  1. What a wonderful prayer. I think our limits in our faith are what often hold us back.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this tender moment. It is so easy to try to reason with God as though we had any idea of all the complexities involved. I liked your image of God-as-parent, smiling indulgently, and wishing for our sake that our dreams would come true.

  3. How cute!! I love that image of finding a flower to climb up to our dreams. Very literary!!