Passing on the Faith
From the Mouths of Babes: How Children Teach Adults
In his book, What Our Children Teach Us: Lessons in Joy, Love and Awareness, Italian phsychotherapist and philosopher Piero Ferruci tells about his young son one day asking, "Daddy, what if our whole life is a dream?" Ferruci writes:
The idea that life is a dream is one I have met in various philosophies and artistic metaphors. But as it is spoken by my own child, it takes on added vitality. I can, for a moment, see his point of view, that of a child watching the world and wondering if it is not all a creation of his own mind. And my attention, so often preoccupied with small everyday problems, suddenly grows. I rediscover the enjoyment of thinking. (xiv)
As the children of a creative God, made in his image, we ought to be the most creative people around. Our minds ought to be constantly pressing the boundaries of what can be in search of what could be. Unfortunately, life has a way of crowding out our ability to see things differently and to dream dreams unhindered by the limitations of reality. Children though, can help us recapture this.
Children are an essential component of our Christian communities, not only for the sake of their own growth and flourishing but also for ours. This is not to say that those who have children have a leg up on spiritual growth. After all, Christ himself came as a child, a gift to the whole world. In being born to Mary, his coming evidenced God's concern for the barren and childless. That concern should be ours as well. Thus, when we function properly as the family of God (of course, with all the proper and necessary precautions), when we adults spend time with the children among us, when we listen to them, watch them, follow them, and let them teach us how to be curious all over again, they provide to the whole adult community an important, perhaps vital, part of our spiritual growth. When any of us, like Jesus, welcome children into our presence, we discover among other things, an opportunity to grow and learn from some of the best among us.
What have children taught you? I'd love to hear your stories!
Jerry Ireland works as a missionary with the Assemblies of God, and is currently a PhD student in Theology and Apologetics. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.