... in being childlike

Published on 25 Sep 2018
A little girl in an aquarium

As we began Mass on Sunday we sang 'Be Thou My Vision' which has the line 'a true child make me'. I found this slightly amusing, thinking that I'd been feeling of late that adult life entails a lot of responsibilities and decision-making, and feeling rather tired of being sensible, I had wondered if it would be so bad to be a child again!

Of course it means 'a true child of God' and by 'true' means 'true to God'. In fact it was a well-chosen hymn because the gospel contained that passage of the disciples being 'childish' ('I'm more important than you!') and Jesus taking a real child and saying 'anyone who welcomes one of these little children in my name, welcomes me'.

What does being a child of God entail? Recently I spent some time with a little girl who was at that particular stage when she was having a tantrum about something pretty trivial, but afterwards I said to the person with me that in a way, children were no different, adults just have tantrums internally and that can have far worse consequences. A child cries and maybe shouts, but soon afterwards the issue is resolved and forgotten about, whereas much of the time an adult will say nothing but quietly resent and let the matter fester. Which is not, in fact, very 'adult' at all. We all know someone who can be incredibly honest and blunt, which can seem a bit much at times.  But mostly, adults are not honest enough, especially with their feelings. 

Another facet of childlike behaviour is curiosity and unbounded enthusiasm for simple things, character traits I hold very dearly. Many of my closest friends have childlike enthusiasm, which is very pure and infectious. These things are often looked down upon in the adult world, yet they are precious gifts which should be nurtured. Why should we ever suppress our enthusiasm? 

Children are very trusting. They can sometimes meet a complete stranger and immediately talk to them in a way that an adult cannot. Naturally this can be a problem in some circumstances but as we grow to be more suspicious of others we lose the ability to trust anyone and become overly sceptical, which can lead us to be cut off from others. 

A child of God is surely honest, enthusiastic, loyal and devoted, trusts in God to look after them. With all my adult worries I can learn a lot from that. 

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