Worth Revisiting: Unless We Become Like a Child,Tree, or Frog


Children are delightful because they are not self-conscious and they really don’t worry too much about their appearance. Little people are too busy exploring the world and having fun just being themselves.

Thomas Merton, a Trappist Monk,  once wrote that frogs and trees are holy because they simply are who they are called to be by God, without masks or false personas. He reflects on the fact that adults tend to take themselves too seriously when all along God invites us to play and join in the cosmic dance without pretention:

“What is serious to men is often very trivial in the sight of God. What in God might appear to us as “play” is perhaps what he Himself takes most seriously. At any rate, the Lord plays and diverts Himself in the garden of His creation, and if we could let go of our own obsession with what we think is the meaning of it all, we might be able to hear His call and follow Him in His mysterious, cosmic dance. We do not have to go very far to catch echoes of that game, and of that dancing. ….when we see children in a moment when they are really children; when we know love in our own hearts; …. provide a glimpse of the cosmic dance.
Yet the fact remains that we are invited to forget ourselves on purpose, cast our awful solemnity to the winds and join in the general dance.”

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As St. Augustine said, ” Learn to dance or the else the angels in heaven will not know what to do with you. ”

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Little children are also simply who they are. No wonder Christ said,

“Unless you become like a little child, you cannot enter the kingdom of God.”

 

An amusing story illustrates this insight into children.

 

One visit from Grandma Jean and Grandpa Ron occurred when Jean and Ruth were about four and five years old. Grandma applied a touch of makeup each morning and my little girls were fascinated because they had never seen anything like it. I wasn’t interested in makeup in those days and, frankly, there wasn’t time anyway; I was lucky if I managed to brush my teeth and throw some real clothes on by noon.

 

Finally, after a few mornings of watching the longing on her granddaughters’ faces, my mom asked, “Would you like me to give the two of you a make-over?”

Jean and Ruth were almost too thrilled to sit still as Grandma applied a light coat of lipstick, mascara, blush and eyeshadow. The results delighted my mother; the little girls looked like they could have posed for a photo shoot. She called me over to enjoy the results and, of course, I was pleasantly surprised. The idea of actual wearing make-up tickled both girls and they glowed with the admiration we showered on them.

 

“Well”, my mum asked with pride, “Would you like to see what you look like now?”

“No thanks, Grandma.”, answered Jean, “We know what we look like.”

Off they skipped to play outside.

 

My mum and I looked at each other and laughed.
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