"...Oh darling, don't you ever grow up,
it could stay this simple
No one's ever burned you,
nothing's ever left you scarred..."
Much to my naivete' (you are welcome to read clueless-ness) of all things pop-culture, Taylor Swift's new CD Speak Now came out this week, and Samantha just had to send me a link to "Never Grow Up." And to be honest, I have to say, I was a bit surprised at how much I really liked it. It has a sweet message about the innocent joys of childhood, told through the eyes of a lyricist who knows the power of storytelling.
So, this evening I have been thinking about the insidiousness push to "grow up." Not just for our children, but for each of us. Grow up and be something, get something, own something, do something. But what if, as Mary Baker Eddy says in her collection, Miscellaneous Writings 1883 - 1896:
"Beloved children, the world has need of you, - and more as children than as men and women: it needs your innocence, unselfishness, faithful affection, uncontaminated lives. You need also to watch, and pray that you preserve these virtues unstained, and lose them not through contact with the world. What grander ambition is there than to maintain in yourselves what Jesus loved, and to know that your example, more than words, makes morals for mankind!"
And what would those "morals" be? I can't help but return, again, to her definition of the word "moral" in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures:
"MORAL. Humanity, honesty, affection, compassion, hope, faith, meekness, temperance."
What do children teach us about these "morals" for mankind. Well, I can only speak from my own experience, but our children have taught me so much more about moral courage, than I could ever have imagined.
They have taught me about the humane act of living free from the judgment of others. They have taught me to be innocently, joyfully honest about my moment-by-moment motives and desires, to be affection-based in all of my words and deeds, to be hopeful...always hopeful, to be compassionate with all of creation...birds, trees, spiders, to make faith more than just a system of thinking, but an attitude of trust in God...and others, to be meek (not inclined to anger or frustration) in every situation, and to be tempearate...modest, free from extremes...not abstinent or obstinate in my actions, at all times. Sometimes they have taught me these lessons by example, and sometimes they have given me the perfect laboratory for proving that what I am studying, is getting through...and being practiced.
Yes, our children have taught me more about real moral courage, than I could ever have learned otherwise. There is something about the way we listen to our children, trust their innocence, and are moved by their affection, that penetrates all our "learning" and makes us sit up and take notice.
Just the other day I was driving everyone home from school and asked about an incident I'd been "alerted" to by another parent. One of our daughters said, "Mom, that's not our business to talk about." Boy did that bring me into alignment. If I wasn't going to "get" the scoop about what had "gone down," I had only one response...to pray. To claim that God was "in control," and that I could trust His government, yield to His wisdom, expect His correction, and let God be God to me.
Mary Baker Eddy, further says in Science and Health:
"Children are more tractable than adults, and learn more readily to love the simple verities that will make them happy and good."
Jesus loved little children because of their freedom from wrong and their receptiveness of right. While age is halting between two opinions or battling with false beliefs, youth makes easy and rapid strides towards Truth."
I believe, that if we watch them carefully, are willing to be open to them as our teachers, and practice our lessons faithfully, we, too, can relearn "to love the simple verities that will make [us] happy and good."
I can ask myself, each moment, "Okay Kate, do you want to live out from an aging, accumulative, accomplished, accreted thought...halting between opinions - yours or others, all the time, battling with false beliefs? Or, do you want to live a life of youthful freedom from wrong thinking about yourself, your family, your neighbors, and the world around you? Do you want to live with a heart that is receptive, alert, aware of all that is right with the world? Do you want to make easy and rapids strides towards the Truth of God's presence in each situation, or dig around for all the ways that He has let us down as a human family...allowing his children to sprial into an abyss of sophistry with all of its societal ills, mean-spirited gossip, and self-indulgent greed?" I think the answer is pretty clear.
I dont, we don't, no one ever needs to have the fresh blank page of their innocence burned by the flames of mistrust and disappointment, we don't have to be scarred by the imposition of dashed expectations, valueless opinions, or thoughtless criticism. We can live steeped in hope, grounded in faith, and empowered by our innately youthful humanity and compassion. We can make easy and rapid strides towards splashing wildly...and with abandon...in the sweet puddles of innocence, trust, meekness, affection, non-judgment, and honesty.
So today...and over and over again throughout the day...I am choosing youth. I am choosing to "never grow up." To refuse to enter the "place" where I am above, and beyond, being excited about all the good that is in the world. I am choosing to remain, now and forever, a child of God. I am here to prove that:
"It's never too late to have a happy childhood."
- B. Breathed
Thanks Sam for reminding me to be a child today...and every day. I have on my red rubber boots (really!!...red paisley rubber cowboy boots) and I am ready to splash!!
Kate Robertson, CS
[photo credit: Nathaniel Wilder 2010]