English is not my first language and as such sometimes my understanding of certain things is incomplete or incorrect. For some reason I assumed the phrase “child is the father of man” meant something like “our children are our wisest teachers”. Laughable …really ! I am wiser now and understand that this Wordsworth statement perhaps means that the qualities exhibited by a child will deepen and appear in a marked form when the child grows up into a man. However, I believe both statements hold some truth. I can see how my little daughter is developing her own personality- her likes and dislikes are becoming more concrete and her character is shaping. I can also say I have learnt so many things from this little child of mine.
One of things that has always fascinated me about little children is their sense of wonder. Author and apologist Ravi Zacharias, once related an incident about his three kids where the youngest responded in amazement at the very simple act of the opening of a door. He made the point that as we grow older our sense of wonder diminishes. You just have to see my daughter’s eyes open wide at every christmas decoration and light to know it’s true. Our sense of wonder is truly a great gift from our maker.
I am equally amazed by little children’s innocence. They are so quick to forgive and forget and do not hold grudges. Sometimes I feel little kids can look beneath the surface and into our hearts. I am amazed how often my daughter looks into a person’s eyes to befriend them. It is important for her to look into their eyes to recognise someone completely. I was video-chatting with my mother via skype and the camera was positioned in such a way that only the lower half of her face was visible. When the angle was changed to include her full face, my daughter jumped with recognition and called out to her …”amma”! My daughter ascribes person-hood or life to anything with eyes. I once drew two eyes on a balloon she was playing with and she started to playing with it as if it were a person. Now she was not only bouncing around with it but also talking to it as if it was her companion in play. For this little one eyes truly are the window to the soul.
This sense of wonder and innocence is perhaps the reason the good shepherd implored us to be like little children to enter into the kingdom of heaven.
May be this advent season would be a good time to recapture that innoncence and the sense of wonder in my own grown-up heart.