The kids and I just finished this book. We really liked it, but I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea – or hot chocolate as the case may be. It is very whimsical. You definitely have to practice suspension of disbelief while you’re reading it. I tend to agree with “A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men,” a philosophy from the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The book does record a few exchanges of harsh words between characters. The kids and I used this as an opportunity to remind each other to season our words with kindness. Sorry kids, I’d like to tell you that one day you won’t need to be reminded to bath your speech in gentleness, but that has not been my experience. We are all a work in progress.
One paragraph particularly stuck out to me. It’s in the last chapter when Mr. Wonka tells Charlie and Grandpa Joe that He wants to give the entire chocolate factory to little Charlie.
“Listen,” Mr. Wonka said, “I’m an old man. I’m much older than you think. I can’t go on forever. I’ve got no children of my own, no family at all. So who is going to run the factory when I get too old to do it myself? Someone’s got to keep it going – if only for the sake of the Oomp-Loompas. Mind you, there are thousands of clever men who would give anything for the chance to come in and take it over from me, but I don’t want that sort of person. I don’t want a grown-up person at all. A grownup won’t listen to me; he won’t learn. He will try to do things his own way and not mine. So I have to have a child. I want a good sensible loving child, one to whom I can tell all my most precious candy-making secrets - while I am still alive.”
I’ve often meditated on Matthew 18:3 “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” I’ve often asked God what He means here. A little child is dependent. They unabashedly rely on their parents for sustenance, shelter, stimulation, and comfort. A little child has unbridled faith. They have not learned the logical limitations that rule the adult world. A child believes that a mountain can be uprooted and thrown into the sea, but we adults struggle with this idea. Through Roald Dahl’s words I see a new aspect of coming to God as a little child. Adults have their own way of doing things. Children listen and watch. They learn by mimicking their parents.
Lord, thank you that unlike Mr. Wonka you do go on forever. I want to know your most precious secrets – candy making or otherwise. Please tell them to me. I want to listen to you and learn your ways. Forgive me when I do things my own way instead of yours. Be my patient teacher. To you be the glory.