Contemplation, Family Life

Repetition

This is such a good quote from the book “Tending the Heart of Virtue: How Classic Stories Awaken a Child’s Moral Imagination” by Vigan Guroian.

It inspires me to remember when my daughter is banging on that pot for the 30th time or wants to read that same story for the 12th, to put my selfish annoyance in check and remember to let her press deeply into the joy and magic of the beauty in life seen best by the innocence of childhood. Even if the repetition is annoying, I must teach my kiddos to let themselves revel in the little things and so develop their sense of joy and imagination. If I am constantly saying “stop doing that” because my stunted adult mind has lost its pleasure in the mundane, I’ll stunt their own pleasure in the mundane and even teach them to expect fear and frustration in place of wonder and discovery. So I’ll try to remember when I feel like punching a wall if I have to pick up these same toys for the 50th time this week, that repetition is a sign of life and joy and wonder in my child’s heart, and I’ll rejoice that she delights in her mundane messes. Perhaps I’ll even learn a lesson from her myself.

“Repetition signified one other thing to the fourth graders, the importance of which also dawned on my college students. Chesterton observes that when we grow up we tend to think that repetition is a sign of deadness, ‘Like a piece of clockwork. People feel that if the universe were personal it would vary, if the sun were alive it would dance. ‘ To the contrary, ‘variation in human affairs is generally brought into them, not by life, but death; by the dying down or breaking off of their strength or desire. A man varies his movements because of some slight element of failure or fatigue.’ Whereas repetition, far from signifying monotony and deadness, may signify delight, desire, and vitality. And this is what it seemed to mean for the children of Saint Paul’s school who had read Pinocchio. ‘A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have unbounding vitality, because they are spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say “‘Do it again’” because there is such a delight in that thing or activity. It may be,’ Chesterton concludes, ‘that God makes every Daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that he has the eternal appetite of infancy, for we have sinned and grown old, and our father is younger than we. The repetition in nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore.’”

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