What happens to our hopes and dreams?
We are full of them when we are children. We dream of good things; a happy home, a nice garden, a good job, children, families of our own. Success. Holidays in the sun. Travel. Real friends.
But what happens to those things as we grow up? We take our exams, we leave school, we have children, we go to work and have holidays but it never turns out quite the way we dreamt it would. Life as we dreamed it is bloody hard work. “Having a good job” means long hours in spent in the office or having a physically demanding role that exhausts us. “Being married” means having to compromise every decision you make so that you can live in harmony with someone else. “Having children” means the constant worry that is the natural phenomena of being a parent – is my child happy? Hungry? Hurting? Are they occupied? Are they learning? Are they safe?
We began doing “Experience Easter” in church yesterday with the children of Blackley. It is a program designed to tell the Easter story interactively, and we are working our way through three primary schools over the next two weeks. That’s about 1000 children (wow!!!). There are six stations that we use to tell the Easter story: Jesus arriving in Jerusalem, Jesus washing his disciple’s feet, the Last Supper, the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus’ death on the cross and the Resurrection.
Part of the story involves the children thinking about their hopes and dreams, just as the people of Jerusalem would have done when Jesus arrived on his donkey 2000 years ago. Back then, they dreamed of a leader who would overthrow the brutal Roman occupation; they hoped Jesus would set them free from their tyranny. We asked the children about their hopes and dreams for the future yesterday. Their answers were perhaps not surprising: “I want to be a doctor”, “- a vet”, “- a beautician”, “go to college”, “have good qualifications”. One little boy got angry with me when I asked him the question. He shouted at me and waved his hands in the air, saying “I’ve got a lot on at the minute, I can’t think about the FUTURE!!!” (this from a 10 year old. Makes you wonder what his life is really like). I suggested that perhaps he hoped and dreamed of peace and some space in his life. He welled up and said “chance would be a fine thing”. So sad, but it does make you think about what hopes and dreams are to some people.
I thought about everything the children said to me yesterday. Mums were having new babies, there was turbulence at home etc but there was an underlying thread in what they all said and that was that they wanted to be successful.
I wondered about how as adults we sometimes lose sight of that childlike desire and how we let everyday things dominate us. Maybe we should be more like children and instead of hoping and dreaming of things, concentrate on hoping and dreaming of the way to just be.