People were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them; and when the disciples saw it, they sternly ordered them not to do it. But Jesus called for them and said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.’
- Luke 18:15-17
Little Children. We are drawn to them because, in them, we see little selves we think we have lost. Simple, playful, honest, and totally lacking in guile.
For little children, play is being. It is within the construct of their play that they first discover the wonder of the divine in another, and therefore in themselves. Little children haven’t un-learned that play is how they intuit what it is to be human – that is; in community, at play, mutually divine, and in love.
The good news is this: The child’s notion of self is not something we have lost. It is the self God created us to be. It is the self for whom Jesus purchased our freedom to share ourselves. It is the self about whom the Holy Spirit whispers in our ear, day and night; “I made you in my image, therefore you are sufficient; now, love one another…!”
How did I become a nostalgic stranger to the gift of such a loved and loving self?
Somewhere in our childhood we were told that “Play” was a game that had rules and scores and boundaries and winners and losers and titles and triumph and shame. It was probably about the same time we were told that we had to fill in all the white and stay within the lines to be an artist; and that it’s only dance if you get the steps right; and that you have to sing the right words to make music. And that people who live under bridges are too scary for play. They lied. All of them, they lied.
When little children play, the divine self and the divine other greet one another, and the only possible response is delight and a desire to play larger. The Little Children of which Jesus speaks, have no emotions or words for mastery or victor or vanquished; to make guile of any use. Neither ought guile be of use to you and me.
Musical Reflection - Teach Your Children Well, Crosby, Stills, Nash