He is 17 months old and deeply fascinated with light switches. His name is Evan and he is my youngest son and like other children, Evan is learning about the world through repetition. Performing the same action over and over.
And over and over and over and over and over. Ad nauseum.
Evan will walk up to me with his little arms stretched out displaying the universal signal understood by all people everywhere: "Pick me up." Then, using a series of grunts and finger signals, we walk over to the nearest light switch. With his eyes wide and big smile Evan proceeds to flip the light switch up and down each time looking for which lights turn on and which ones turn off.
This exercise brings him joy like few other activities. Which is unfortunate for my arms because I have the load carrying capacity of a table waiter on their first day. But I stand there for as long as I can to watch something beautiful in the eyes of my boy: his first spiritual practice.
Spiritual practices are those things that humans embark on that brings a sense of wonder in the life of the practitioner. And there may be nothing more wonder-inducing to a child than pondering how it is that a switch is connected to the light. You can see that the more Evan flips the switch the greater his fascination. The greater the sense of wonder. The greater understanding that his small actions are connected to something beyond himself. The greater the awareness that he and the light are somehow intertwined. And, paradoxically, the more he practices this the more he wants to continue to practice it.
Evan is not at that stage where we adults tend to remain where if we do not understand what we are doing and how it all "works" then we will not continue to practice. On the contrary, it is the sense of not-knowing that drives Evan to practice even more.
He may not understand electricity or currents or breakers or switches, but he is beginning to understand that there is great joy in just practicing turning the Light on.