Listening to those who haven’t yet forgotten
Posted on May 31, 2016 | Posted by Pastor Daniel
“Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these as the kingdom of God belongs.” – Jesus, Mark 10:14
I recently heard an old Hebrew proverb: Just before a baby is born, the angel Gabriel tells them everything, all the secrets of God and the universe. Then, Gabriel kisses them on the forehead, they are born, and they begin to forget.
It’s a lovely story. You can sort of picture it, can’t you. Gabriel whispering into a baby’s ear. The tiny kiss. And as a brand new parent, I think I can safely say … nah. I love my daughter dearly, and I can’t wait to see the woman she will grow up to be, but did she know secrets of God and the universe just a few short weeks ago? The evidence seems to point to no.
Still, that last line captivates and haunts me: they begin to forget. Now, I am one who believes that as children grow they learn to be kind. They learn to have faith. They learn who they are. They learn to say please, and they learn to repeat the Lord’s Prayer, and they learn to tie their shoes. Like an empty sponge soaking up water, they learn and learn and learn. But still, I wonder if there is some truth that in all of that learning they also begin to forget something. Maybe not the secrets of the universe, but the idea of mystery. Maybe not the secrets of God, but the feel of the angel’s kiss on the forehead.
And it isn’t just the poetry of that line that captivates me. There is a lot of cynicism in our world, a lot of disbelief. The harsh realities of life beat that cynicism into us, and the abundance of it seeps into who we are, until it starts to feel normal. And then those who don’t share in the cynicism are considered naïve, ignorant, childish. I don’t know if we forget the secrets of the universe as we age, but maybe we forget to be comfortable with the universe having secrets. I don’t know if we forget the secrets of God, but maybe we forget that there are secrets about God we just don’t know. Secrets to marvel at and prod at. Secrets which give us hope for this world. Secrets which give more honesty to our prayers.
We can’t go back. We can’t ignore the realities of this world we’ve come to know. But we can invite that sort of infant knowledge into our community, into our presence, into our lives. We can sing songs with kids and pray prayers with them. We can let them tell us a Bible story, and look at their pictures of Jesus feeding the 5,000. We can remember that the children in our midst have something to show us, something we’ve all forgotten. We can’t go back, but we can do that.