Suffer the children

Believe me, unless you become like little children again, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew xviii. 3).

It is encouraging and pleasing that Our Lord does not tell us to remain, but to become, as little children. And that it is littlechildren we are told to become like, not adolescents.

An ordinary child, who has not been warped by ill treating or spoiling, is, until he is ten years old, a more complete human being than he will ever be again. He possesses humility and simplicity, in the true sense of those much-abused words. He has the capacity for total joy and total surrender. No memory and no experience of the power of time to dull and to heal can take away one jot from his eternal now. His reactions to other people are absolute, his love is without alloy. His trust is without question or doubt. His values are true; he is untouched by the materialism of grown-up people. Even when he selects among the things that adults give to him as the things of a child, he shows the superior wisdom, and exquisite rightness, of a young child’s values in his choice. He discards the expensive toys that are offered to him in favour of those things which are useful or beautiful—or both—and which in some way mean communion with adults. For the little child loves adults, wholly beyond their deserts. Just before he leaves his childhood, he has, like a grace, an absorbed love for little things, like tiny shells, for their own loveliness. — from “Becoming Like Little Children