I came home today to find my seven-year-old son, Eli, and my eight-year-old daughter, Emily, playing dodge ball in the street with some neighborhood kids in front of my house. After I was sure they saw me and were safely out of my way, it thrilled my soul. Do kids still play in the street? Mine do. Emily and Eli watch their share of television and DVDs. They play X-box--a lot! They are all too often on the computer nurturing their Webkins like every other kid in America. But when given a choice, they would almost always rather play outside–and I love it.
I love it that they want to play with real kids in the real world more than they want to play with virtual pets in the virtual world. To me, kids at play in the neighborhood after homework is done and before dinner is ready seems very human–a little slice of how things ought to be. In that moment of seeing my kids play in the street, the pressures of being a pastor, the current political scandals of South Florida and Idaho, the war in Iraq all seemed to fade into the background, and the kingdom of God came into view. My kids were playing with Nick, his cousins from Ecuador who now live in Madagascar and R.J. who, because he is usually inside playing video games, hadn’t yet seen my four-month-old baby daughter, Ellie. I met Abi, Nick’s aunt, who explained that she and her husband want to move from Madagascar to South Florida, because they want a better life for their kids. Suddenly, the 2.2 million people who are expected to move to South Florida in the next two decades have faces and names.
My wife came out to call us in to dinner, and the dodge ball game quickly turned into a mini-block party. These are the magic moments I live for–seeing lives being woven together by Christ. Connections were made. Amazingly, an Ecuadorian from Madagascar who married a French man had things in common with an Anglo couple in Parkland, FL. My wife and I traveled to Quito, Ecuador in 2003. We have the same concerns for our kids–safe community, quality education, promising opportunities. Who knows how these neighborhood relationships will develop? Well, we know who knows. Right now I need to leave my virtual friends and have a cup of coffee and a conversation with my very real wife.