Jill Carattini is a senior writer for the Ravi Zacharias Int’l Ministries in Atlanta, Ga. I enjoy her columns greatly. She always seems to express so beautifully things that I have thought or felt.
Her column today speaks of the delightful transparency of children, how you can see it on their faces as they “make connections from one dot of information to another.” That is one of the joys of being a grandparent. One has the time and distance with which to watch that process happening. It seemed to have gotten lost in the daily demands and responsibilities of raising our own children.
On a recent visit by our four year old grandaughter, who has now mastered her numbers sufficiently to allow for this activity, I had given her a “connect the dot” coloring book and together we discovered the joy of watching a picture come into being through her mental processing of the order of the numbers.
I am keeping journals for each of our grandchildren, writing in them some of the cute sayings and fun things that occur when we spend time with them. I am also writing about my hopes for them and telling them about things that are important to us as their grandparents. I hope that they will be able to use those journals some day to “connect the dots” in their own stories of who they are.
Carratini writes that the connecting of one fact or experience to another is how we discover and know reality. She writes that even as adults, we find ourselves secretly excited “when another dot has been connected or the lights suddenly come on, when an unwelcome burden turns out to be the means through which a longstanding prayer is answered, when a distinquishable trail of meaning can be seen through the jungle of our experiences.” She says there is a desire in us to see design and consistency that moves beyond functionality. Furthermore, she says we find these connections because they exist. Truth corresponds with reality.
She states that “books, experiences, interests, and history are bound together by an incommunicable quality. C.S. Lewis calls it the “secret signature” of each soul, the unappeasable longing that connects the moments of our lives together.” She says she thinks of it as the imprint of a personal God.
I have been surprised at times at how personal and intimate God is – how He takes the time and special attention to craft circumstances that speak uniquely to something in me. Though others may be a part of it, it doesn’t have the meaning for them that it does for me and I have the sense that they are just bit players at that moment, that the moment itself has been crafted for me alone. There are other times, I’m sure, when I’m one of the bit players in someone else’s sacred and personal moment with God.
In the spiritual gifts class that I lead at church, one of the exercises we do in the first class is to consider 5 to 7 experiences of our lives that have been meaningful for us. We have to think about them and, in the end, consider whether or not there seems to be a theme at work in the experiences. How has God used those experiences to bring us to what and where we are today?
That exercise seems to recapture something of the delight we have as children in “connecting the dots”. It stimulates in us an ability to see the pattern of His design in our lives.