A few years ago my youngest son and I sat together one evening watching his favorite channel: The Cartoon Network. It wasn’t the reruns of Bugs Bunny or Huckleberry Hound from my own youth, but it was entertaining enough.
After a few laughs my son reached up with his small hands and rubbed the skin around my eyes and temples, burrowing his chubby fingers into the ever deepening crows’ feet that now mark my face. Then he asked, “What are those?” My laughing stopped immediately. Despairingly, I said, “Those are wrinkles.”
A few days later he and I were buzzing down the highway, he sitting in his car seat in the back of our family SUV. Out of nowhere he said to me, “Dad, I don’t have any ‘sprinkles.’” I looked in the rearview mirror to find him carefully rubbing his temples.
“Why do I have ‘sprinkles?’” I asked my observant son, bracing myself for the answer. Surely if he has noticed my wrinkled face he has also made note of my now graying beard, expanding love handles, and aching joints. But his answer was a pleasant, most unexpected surprise. He said, “Because you need ‘sprinkles’ to help you smile.”
One of my favorite pictures of Jesus has him seated on a big Palestinian rock. The artist, unknown to me, has surrounded him with smiling, playful children. The Son of God, head thrown back in laughter, is smothered with little ankle-biters of all nationalities, races, and colors.
That portrait comes right off the pages of the Gospels. People brought their children to Jesus to be held and blessed by him. Jesus’ disciples, with no tolerance for such immature distractions, began running off the children and their parents. Jesus rebuked the disciples strongly, and readily invited the children into his arms.