I was twelve. The comic I was reading had my full attention. I think it was Archie; I am not sure.
What I do recall was my mother dragging me into the kitchen so I could do the dishes. I was informed that if I really loved her she would not have to do this. Seemed like such a small thing but it left a mark. I had learned that love was conditional. It took me a long time to figure out that love is not conditional.
I am fond of saying that I have never met an unspiritual person. I have met numerous people who claim to be unspiritual, yet conversation has usually revealed someone without a language that they recognize as spiritual. Experience has taught me that many folk do not recognize how the attend this aspect of themselves.
Children are naturally spiritual. They laugh with delight. Get struck by awe. Seek out quiet time. Love with wild abandonment. Dare to trust unconditionally. Sadly, by the time most are young adults that aspect of themselves has been buried or chipped away by moments like the one above — a moment where they learn that love has to be earned.
Our children learn so much in the early years. They bring a natural sense of curiosity and awe to the day. They know at a very deep level that they are a delight and life has much to be delighted in. They can see the flowers and hear the birds.
Then something happens; something changes. Instead of being open they learn to be closed. Risks are things you avoid. Life is not safe and you need to be wary. My suspicion is that we had something to do with that.
When each of my children was born the first words they heard from me were: “You will have different problems than I do.” It was my way of promising I would not pay my issues forward and that I would love them for who they were and not who I wanted them to be. It has been hard. It has also been worth it.
The world we live in strips us of delight, contentment and optimism. This is not a good thing. The delight we take in the children is the delight our Creator takes in us.
It is not hard to rediscover it if we would take the time to relearn from the children what we once knew about ourselves.
Reverend Wade Allen ministers to the North Vancouver Island Anglican/United community in Port McNeill, Port Alice and Port Hardy. firstname.lastname@example.org