feature image: Fritz von Uhde, Let the Infants come to me
People, from infants to the elderly, thrive spiritually when they have enough free time to relax, create, and pray. We all need unscheduled time, time to be bored in a positive sense because boredom can the birthplace of authentic spirituality and creativity. Self- obsessed business is often a superficial way of trying to obtain a sense of meaning and worth on our own, without God. When we refrain from distracting ourselves with what we think are important activities and embrace boring silence, we make ourselves available to hear the whispers of the Holy Spirit. God, then, has an opportunity to connect with us.
Most of us take ourselves too seriously, striving to succeed in life through hard work and well- thought out financial savings plans. We end up attacking the problem of how to progress in the spiritual life with a similar work ethic when all along God invites us to be open and flexible enough to respond to His lead. God is always the one who reveals- we simply respond to Him if and when we have time to hear Him. Thomas Merton observes:
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.
Perhaps this is why Jesus reprimanded his disciples when they tried to keep out children from his inner circle:
I assure you,” He said, ‘unless you are converted and become like children, you will never get into the kingdom from heaven’ [Matthew 18:4]
I know God had spoken to my husband and me through the most open person in our house- a three-year-old.
For example, I was rocking newborn Mary one afternoon while eighteen-month-old Ann sat on her Dad’s knee, slowly waking up from a long nap. The serious topic of discussion for the last hour had been,
”How on earth can we manage to get to church as a family with three little ones, all on different schedules?”
Every choice of mass or church had some complication or difficulty that seemed insurmountable. It seemed an impossible situation and I resigned myself to simply staying at home on Sundays for the time being.
Suddenly, we were both startled as a flushed and distraught three-year-old Mark came running into the kitchen. He was still groggy from his nap but was able to yell in very loud voice,
“Jesus says come, Jesus says come!”
Our eyebrows shot up, our eyes popped and our mouths literally hung open as we stared at each other in shocked silence.
The deep discussion was over.