Distance Learning

I have not met a child that did not enjoy rainbows, not that this is always my opening question for them, but I think I can safely say that rainbows are universally enjoyed by children. They are startled by their colors of course, colors that hang there in the sky like a great beach towel drying on the line, but they are equally impressed by distance. My four-year-old Zoe said recently of the moon, “whoa… that’s like 100 feet in the air.” She did not mean that it was close, but that is infinitely far away, and yet somehow always there in her world. We used to jump in our driveway and try to catch the moon- not of course because she believed she could do it, but because it is fun to marvel at just how far away the moon really is from us. 

More recently, we lie breathless after several games of chase on the grass in our backyard, 
staring up at the sky, looking for animals in the clouds. It reminded me of these words from 
George MacDonald:

When I look into the blue sky, it seems so deep, so peaceful, so full of a mysterious 
tenderness- that I could lie for centuries, and wait for the dawning of the face of God 
out of the awful loving-kindness.

Our Lord reminds us of his infinite wisdom and majesty from Isaiah 55:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, 
Neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are my ways higher than your ways
And my thoughts than your thoughts. 

This is dreadful for the unbeliever, but should show the Christian the great compassion of our God. He is big – we are small, and yet the moon hangs in our window, and the sun shines on our faces. 

Go outside. Remember that looking at things, and appreciating distance is part of understanding who we are in the world, not because we want our children to feel insignificant, but to feel the beautiful condescension our great big God has performed in loving us. Too often we’re stuck to screens that rest inches from our nose. We are bigger than that device, and have the power to manipulate it in any way we like. 

Recently I took a tutoring workshop to prepare for my role in tutoring a first grader at a local elementary school. The reading specialist taught us about modern theories on reading comprehension- that now experts say children learn to read by playing outside. How is this you say? Distance. They develop patience in watching a ball fly across the yard (what the experts call “tracking”), they play games by evaluating distance and exploring space that is far bigger than themselves. This actually helps them follow words across a page, not to 
mention developing wonder and awe at what lives just outside their window. 

By taking our kids outside and enjoying with them God’s creation, we reinforce in them these immortal words that you might have heard before: 

Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high
There's a land that I heard of once in a lullaby

Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true

Mark RobertsonComment