xvi. Signs and Wonders - Childhood
"period of life from birth to puberty," Old English cildhad
When I Was Young
When I was young and soft tones were in all
the colours of my scarves and jumpers
my mother worked a rackety loom of whir
and whiz, shuttle and bob – of sew and pull
the knitted skeins of morning through the fall
of afternoon I often sat beside her
watching the slide and pedal to the care
she took with buttonhole and bands until
she cast it from the myriad hooks and keys
and watched it slip in silence from the din
of hours through the reek of machine oil
and naphthalene all piled in perfectly
sorted soft layers of yellow, brown and green
and put on autumns that she wove – for school.
Jesus had plenty of time for children. When his followers wanted to shoo them away he embraced and blessed them. Children are what Jesus invites us to become. He said, “Unless you change and become like children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 18:1-4)
A child then is how Jesus portrays the essence of who he is. Throughout the gospel Jesus challenges the ways of the so-called wise, the learned, those holding high positions, those in power, those who feel superior, those who expect attention, those who judge, those who plan and prosper, those who strive to attain material security. This is not the way of a child. “Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven,” he said. (Matt l8:4)
Humility is the prime virtue of spiritual childhood. Thomas Merton explained that “a humble person takes whatever there is in the world that helps him/her to find God and leaves the rest aside.” A humble disposition then leads us to rely solely on God and God’s ways. As a child is reliant on being cared for, is open to the magnificence of life, the newness of knowledge, the small delights of nature, Jesus invites us to let go of all that keeps us from embracing a state of innocence. Innocence frees us from ourselves and humility opens the doorway to our own freedom.
What Jesus promises is “the kingdom of heaven” to the one who lets herself be dismantled from the self-imposed imprisonment of complex ideas, the suffering that comes from being stuck in habits that do not nourish, and a life composed of pursuing the wrong things.
Jesus came into the world as a vulnerable child, reliant on human care. Jesus left the world as a vulnerable child reliant on the care of God. His journey directs ours, our lives then are to become who we are in the embrace of a parent God.
"Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not: for of such is the Kingdom of God." Mark 10:13
Jean-Baptiste-Greuze – Portrait of a Girl, (19th Century)
Hurry to Pray
I won't fret and I won't worry Instead I'll hurry to pray. I'll turn my problems into petitions And lift my hands in praise. I'll say goodbye to all my fears, His presence sets me free Although I may not understand I feel God's peace in me.
(Adapted from Philippians 4:6-7)
Mary Fairchild ©
©Jeff Guess 2017