Sophistication often gives way to simplicity when children get away from the Internet, cell phones, and iTunes. That’s what happened when my niece’s family left the city and went with me to our family place in Indiana. This beautiful stretch of 47 wooded acres has a lake, streams, and walking trails through the forest. When I asked my grand niece what she wanted to do first, she answered, “Go creeking”. That meant hiking to one of several creeks on the property and wading through the cold water to search for fossils. Located near the spot where the ancient glacier ended, this land is replete with the fossil remains from hundreds of millions of years ago.
Soon the children loaded their pockets with fossils, planning to take them home and show them to their teachers and friends. How paradoxical that in this era of gadgets and electronic media, they delighted in the simple beauty and mystery of nature.
As I watched them, I reflected on the deeper mysteries that the fossils symbolize—the passage of time, the intricacies of creation, and our need to probe beyond the secular world which engulfs us to discover the deeper mystery of God.
Eventually, the children finished their investigation of the creek bottom. When speaking to them afterwards, I sensed that this experience helped them appreciate the sacramentality of life. In so doing, the all-good God, beyond time and place, disclosed himself, as they gleefully sloshed in the creek and accepted the fossils they found as gifts from their creator.
Order Fr. Hater’s new book, Common Sense Catechesis: Lessons from the Past, Road Map for the Future. Related reading: check out Smart Martha's Catholic Guide for Busy Moms.