Monday, January 09, 2006

The Return to Toyland

A year ago I bought an old record album, for $1, at our local Salvation Army store, It's called Best of The Great Songs of Christmas and even now, January 9th, while I sit in my lamp-lit dream room, I am still playing that 1970's Christmas album. There's just something about it.

Months ago, only after I'd listened to Doris Day's Toyland song, did I realize this was the same album my parents owned while I was growing-up. Instantly, I was catapulted back into my 13-year-old body and standing inside our living room at that time, a former classroom of our church (but that's another post), listening to Doris' lovely voice singing these words:

Toyland, toyland
little girl and boy land
when you dwell within it
you are ever happy there!

Childhood toyland
mystical merry toyland
once you pass it's borders
you can never return again.

Always, I would become all teary-eyed by the song's bittersweet end, because at 13, I was on the far outer banks of Toyland--and I knew it. I knew I was just one step away from the gate and the curvy road of no return.

There is a mystical, merry toyland and we do all leave it. Even the Apostle Paul mentioned it:

"When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me." 1 Corinthians 13:11

The key which lets us out the gate is that crazy desire we find in our little head one day, the one which says, "I want to be an adult. I want to be all grown-up and no longer told what to do--I want to do what I want to do, when I want to do it."

And that is natural and right and fine, as long as it's not rushed and taken to extremes (which, sadly, it often is).

But then long about age 40, we find ourselves wanting back into Toyland. Oh, not the very same one, of course, (though some people toy with that idea), but a kinder, gentler land for adults who have eaten of adulthood for years and years and have still been found wanting. They are full and yet empty, too. They've had enough of adulthood as they've seen and known it. Many along the way discovered that getting what you think you want, when you want it, wasn't like their childish minds dreamed it would be. Others still have those childhood dreams because as of yet, they've still not experienced them.

And then there are others, and I think I'm in this group, who want this other Toyland because to them, to us, we believe it will make our already-good, yet flawed, lives better. We glimpse another place, over there, just beyond that gate, where things and life and relationships are simpler and where our imaginations are returned to us. There's not as much 'stuff' over there. We've grown weary of complication and always having to figure things out and thinking(and thinking and thinking) and planning ahead. We're exhausted from worrying and working hard and the bills and problems and whining children which we, ourselves, have created.

So we gaze at the gates of that simpler life, that new, improved Toyland with the wide, green lawns and sun and peace-- and we long to live there, instead of in the chaos where we live now.

And I have discovered that we can live there.

There is a new key, however, one which now lets us in, which we have to discover within our pockets. And the label on the key reads, Change. Change is required to open the gate to a simplicity which brings joy and happiness and a head no longer hurting, top-heavy with the weight of the world.

And only God can make and file that Change key. And only the people who realize that--only those who let God change them--only they are the folks you see just beyond those wrought-iron gates frolicking and dancing with joy as they go about doing all those daily tasks we all must do--all those things, little and big, which God asks and enables us to do for Him. All are done and completed with that sense of joy just right over there--just beyond the gates which open into the new Toyland for the adults who wearied of becoming adults along the way.

"Oh unhappy and pitiable and wretched man that I am! Who will release and deliver me from [the shackles of] this body of death? Oh thank God! [He will!] through Jesus Christ (the Anointed One) our Lord!" ... Romans 7:24,25

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