Tuesday, 29 June 2010

The Sacrament of Childhood

I have used this term over a fair period of time now, especially when praying with those who have a care or responsibility for children and their needs.

I don't know if I am the first to coin this phrase, but it has a very specific meaning for me. Working from the beginning, I take the notion that a sacrament is the outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible grace. I fully believe that childhood is one such grace.

Taking it to its fullest conclusion, in the same way that all sacraments can be withheld, removed or denied - the same can be said for childhood. My wife is a child protection solicitor, and whilst she never speaks in specifics, I know that she witnesses the horror of those who would abuse children or abuse themselves of one another to the detriment of their child.ren The 'sacrament of childhood' can be taken away, withheld - robbed.

Childhood is, of course, a fact of chronology. I believe it is also a pure quality of personality that is manifest at that time. In an ordinary child from and ordinary background in ordinary circumstances, their 'childhood' resonates from them. It is to be seen in the keen appetite for the world around them, and inquisitiveness that leads them through their learning, in whatever form will suit them over time. Childhood is also seen in the purity of unrestrained emotion, good bad or malevolent! Childhood is in innocence and a lack of cynicism - or in other words, a hopefullness in all things. Childhood is about being immortal, and largely untouchable. 

So, we take these qualities of being and we can readily see the hand of God in them. 

As a sacramentally rooted Christian, I aspire to realise this particular outward sign once again. I wonder if it is possible to retain child-like qualities over a lifetime, proudly and conspicuously. I am not speaking of 'childishness' of course; that is something unpleasant in someone my age if perpetuated. Instead, I watch my own children or the children around me, and wonder if they are in fact administering a sacrament to me. They won't know it, but that is part of the joy of it all - but I am increasingly aware of the potential that children have to remind me how God created me, how I should aspire to behave and 'be'. I don't think that maturation is about moving away from being child-like, but more to do with self-awareness. One needn't supercede the other. Sadly, in most cases, that self-awareness is worn like a curse, robbing us of hopefulness and sheer unbridled joy. We see our warts on our noses but not the shimmering pools of our own eyes. My kids haven't noticed my nose either, but instead they see the good in me like no other person does or can. I wish I could be like that with the people I meet every day.

Child-like? Or in other words. 'God-like'


  1. David, you are a very gifted writer and this post about children is excellent. Thank you for sharing your insights and thoughts on this subject.

    Jesus loved little children

    Matthew 18:1-6 (New King James Version)

    1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, 3 and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me. 6 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

  2. What I love about my kids and their faith, is that they just accept everything they are told about God as truth. They don't say, 'well God can't do that', or, 'well if there's a God why didn't he save my guinea pig when it was ill', or 'is God really a part of an overactive imagintation, fragmented by past experiences', or some other nonsense. No to them, God IS. Simple as that. I wish my faith were as simple as that. He just IS. No questions, no unbelief or doubt, no awkward moments when stuck with a questioning non-believer. To them it's perfectly normal to accept that there is a God who can talk to us, heal us, hear us, be part of us, even though we can't see him. That is the part of childlike that I want. Total acceptance of 'the truth'.

  3. I agree with what you say, David, especially about childlike being akin to God-like. And would like to add that children (in the main) delight in the world around them just like God delights in each of us. Every Blessing

  4. Thank you all - I thought I was going out on a limb here (though one I am nonetheless committed to)

  5. Thanks for share. Great posts.



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