Many a grandparent, granduncles and aunts, parents, uncles and aunts may not only to have had to sing Baby Shark, but also engage themselves in the antics of this popular children song. What is this song about? Why is it so popular? In actual fact, Washington Nationals left fielder Gerardo Parra’s walkup music is Baby Shark and, according to him, his two-year-old daughter loves it and sings it often. The moment the song began, everyone at the ballpark stood up. My host, for whom I remain thankful, also stood up and invited me to stand, and before long everyone was singing and dancing to the unique antics of the song.
What fun it was for me! But what real fun it is to be enchanted with a song, the unique dance of a song and the plain simple joy of being a child again. There’s something amazing about being a child; it is fascinating, and you only needed to have been a child once to know what joy it can be to be one. We dote on our children, grandchildren, grandnephews and nieces - and, in fact, on children who bear no familial relationship with us - and we also seek to protect them from harm. We like to offer them all that they need to be comfortable and to thrive. We dote on ourselves as we would a child. Some have said that adults like to play with toys - the only difference is that theirs are a little more expensive.
At the ballpark that evening were many adults and children - 37,491 in all. And within each of us sat a child - that wonderful, innocent child for whom being at the ballpark is an opportunity for fellowship, food, and drinks. Behind me sat three middle-aged women who were acquainted with each other. I could hear snippets of their conversation, and their occasional burst of laughter would cause me to look back. You could tell from the excitement on their faces that they were just happy to be with each other - fellowship, the desire of a child.
To my left was a gentleman in a Dodgers shirt sitting next to an acquaintance in a Nationals shirt - we don’t have to support the same team to be friends. Every now and then, this Dodgers fan would cuss; he didn’t know he was sitting by a priest, but that is beside the point. His disappointment over a bad play by the Dodgers was all too palpable, and equally exuberant was his excitement when the Dodgers would make a good play. His was a reflection of the indeterminate and unpredictable nature of children - and of you and I.
A Korean family sat in the row of seats directly in front of me, and two rows down were a number of Korean young couples, one of whom was holding a Korean flag. My host shared with me the fact that there was a Korean, Hyun-Jin Ryu, on the Dodgers team. Their cheering was one of cheering a ‘tribal’ idol. Like children, we all have idols. We look up to our idols, and we look to be shaped by the values that guide them in their lives.
"Make some noiiiise!", came the sound from the speakers, and we all did. When a ball is hit so hard that it travels into the stands, like the competitive child in us, each fan attempts to catch the ball. One ball came very close to me, only three rows in front. It was caught by an older man who, I believe, gave it to a child. When t-shirts are being thrown to the crowd, each person competes with others to catch one. The thrill that exists in all of these experiences tells of our childlike selves - the playful part of each person, whether a child or an adult.
In reading the story about Jesus encouraging his friends to allow the children come to him - yes, for theirs is the kingdom of God - it's clear that he wasn’t being condescending about it. He was keenly aware that within each of us sits a child... that pure, innocent child who doesn’t mind singing Baby Shark, dancing to Baby Shark, who thrives on fellowship with others, loves to chatter with friends, cries over his or her feelings being hurt by another, easily forgives, and loves unconditionally.
There is a proverb which, when translated literally, means “No one teaches a child about God." . In other words, every single child has a deep sense of awareness of God. The child may not be able to articulate what he or she thinks about God, knows about God, what God means to him or her, or anything else about God. Nonetheless, that awareness is ever-so-present. That is why we continually have to be invited to believe, even in the midst of our unbelief.
It is for a good reason that we do not lose that child in us. When Paul talks about putting childhood things behind, he doesn’t mean losing the child within. So, hold on to the child in you. Much as you would need it at the ballpark, you would also need it as you come to faith…not as one who understands the full context thereof, but as one who is eager to learn like a child, walk like a child, talk like a child, and even sing and dance to Baby Shark like a child.