Like A Child

Reflection on The Word –

October 7, 2012

There is a popular movie which appeared in recent years starring Seth Rogan and Paul Rudd, and it includes a conversation as they watch the children of Rudd’s character playing on a playground, delightedly blowing bubbles.  The two adult men marvel at how much fun the children have playing with bubbles, and Paul Rudd’s characters says, “I wish I liked anything as much as my kids like bubbles.”   I think this comment fits perfectly with today’s gospel from Mark where Jesus says “…whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it,” because in this scene from the movie, the father (like the disciples in today’s gospel) was skeptical (and I think a little jealous).    Do you remember playing Hide-and-Go-Seek as a child?  Do you remember the sheer, untainted delight you felt as the person who was “It” counted down with their back turned and eyes closed?   You had only a few urgent seconds to run away to find a good hiding place, it was all you could do not to shriek in anticipation, and it was the most exciting thing in the whole universe.  How great would it be to relive that kind of pure joy over something so simple?

Each year, as we prepare young people to receive the sacrament of confirmation, we often have conversations about the gifts of the Holy Spirit.   Wonder and Awe (or Fear of the Lord) is listed as one of these gifts, and this gift is what keeps us aware that God’s majesty is beyond our ability to understand.   As we grow older, it is easy to become disconnected from this gift.   Certainly, our experiences can make us cynical, and frequently jaded.   At other times we start to think we understand God perfectly, and I am not sure this is ever a good sign.   One of the greatest spiritual gifts I have received was when I realized that everything I thought that I understood about God was really very insignificant compared to what God is.   It seems ironic to me that this realization should be liberating, but it opened my mind about faith and spirituality in surprising and unexpected ways.   It restored in me some of the Wonder and Awe that is so characteristic of children and youth, and as we observe Thanksgiving on Monday, this is one of the things I am thankful for.

Of course, the Good News is that when Jesus tells us we need to become like little children in order to enter into the Kingdom of God, we know it must be possible.  Personally, I am blessed because the young people I work with consistently keep me in touch with the beauty of observing the world with child-like amazement, and I am inspired to seek out spiritual practices that help me to remember what that is like.   Catching fireflies certainly works, but so does flying a kite at the beach on a crisp October day.   I suggest rolling down a grassy hill without worrying about grass stains on your clothes.  Jump on a trampoline.  Chew watermelon-flavoured Bubblicious.

So why not go out some sunny autumn day armed with a gallon of bubble solution and blow some bubbles?  Return to innocence, and let yourself be grounded by the forgotten wisdom of a simpler time.

Trevor Droesbeck,  Office of Youth Faith Development for the Archdiocese of Moncton

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