I’m thinking that most of us – Democrats and Republicans, Progressives and Conservatives, Denominational People and Non-Denominational People – can agree on the issue of free range children – at least to a point.
I’m not talking about allowing our preschoolers to wander home alone from the library at 9 pm. I’m talking about kids who who know how to look both ways before crossing the street who need to run and skip and catch guppies and climb trees – sometimes without the watchful eye of adults.
I’m not talking about abandoned kids whose parents drop them off at the zoo to go to work. (Sadly, that probably happens.) I’m talking about two siblings – ages ten and six, walking several blocks home after playing in a park on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
All of us of a certain age can recall stories from our childhood of summer days when we left home in the morning and returned in time for dinner having played with our pals all day long. We rode bikes. We collected rocks. But then Etan Patz‘ photograph was printed on the side of our milk cartons and people got scared. And a couple years later the Center for Missing and Exploited Children was established and names like Elizabeth Smart and Jaycee Dugard became familiar.
If you are a parent who’s lost a child even for a minute in Target, you know that it’s terrifying, even after you’ve found them in the Lego aisle. We’ve been trained to keep a sharp eye.
So what happens to kids who never wander? Do we turn into overly cautious adults who are slow to explore? Are we forever to live by fear instead of faith?
I wonder today about Free Range Adults. They aren’t many.
I know some adults who take risks and explore the world. They tend to be fresh out of college, privileged enough to have the resources to travel or move to a new city. But then we settle down and by the time we are middle aged, we become slower to explore.
So what does all this say about the moving of the Spirit – if anything? I work with wonderful church people who are usually slow to leave their comfort zones. Maybe we are afraid of wandering too far from what feels like “home” to us.
We forget that the God who created us also called Abram and Esther and Ruth away from all that was familiar to them. God moved prophets to speak difficult truths to people who didn’t want to hear them. God took a holy singular personal risk to make an eternal cosmic point.
And so living Free Range with our ears perked up towards the heavens seems like the least we can do. I believe God is calling us to something that will stretch us beyond our wildest imagination, but we need to be willing to wander a bit.