Wisdom held in the heart of a child
By Jackie Morfesis
Old expressions endure through time because they contain timeless truth. “Out of the mouths of babes” is one such expression. To fully understand this quotation, its important here to reflect upon our Lord’s association with and relationship to children. We all know that each of is a child of God and that we are dearly loved by our Father. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14); He also said, “And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea” (Mark 9:42).
Our Lord was very clear about how we must honor, protect, love and guide the youngest of souls. And yet, in all our wisdom as adults, it is the children who teach us — and the lessons they teach us are not the elaborate philosophical lessons that one might expect from the most learned and intellectual among us. Rather, they are lessons that come directly from the heart. Lessons that speak to us in the ways we need most to hear. Lessons that can come no other way.
I recently witnessed a young child, whose namesake is St. Sebastian, ask why we pray in the presence of lit candles during a wedding ceremony. First, for a child to make the association between prayer and the purpose of the candles in prayer speaks to the open heart of this child and his inquisitive and Spirit-filled nature. Second, he not only thought this but voiced this wanting to know more, to understand. The priest answered in a way that was both simple to understand yet profound, in much the way our Lord spoke in His parables.
The candle is the Light of our Lord and as our prayers rise, the wax melts and drips down the candle like our sins. The child asked: “What is sin?” Our priest told him that sin was the wrong things we do that can be melted away. It made me think of this scripture: “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool” (Isaiah 1:18).
We think that we need to be educated by the most learned theologians. By the saints and martyrs of the church. By all those who have invested their lives in studying God’s holy Word. Certainly, this is the case. Yet it is the children who have most recently come from God. Whose souls are open, loving, curious and malleable. It is the children who deserve our attention and nurturing so that they can grow in the likeness of our Lord and have within them a strong foundation of faith to hold them when the winds and tides of life change, as inevitably they will. When they come like a raging storm or a cloak of darkness, we will not be shaken.
Children resonate with me. As a creative soul, I have never lost the imagination, wonder and curiosity of my childhood. Truly, I have held tenaciously onto everything that mattered to me when I was young. I refuse to allow the world to make me jaded, cynical, bitter or mean-spirited despite everything that has happened to me and everything that anyone has ever committed against me. For this reason, these words resonate with me: “The creative adult is the child who survives.” We are all creative souls as children. We all believe. We believe in the most magical and beautiful things possible. Inch by inch, day by day, it is removed from us, either through educational systems that do not support our gifts and talents or by others who do not understand our uniqueness, or even by friends and family who at some point let go of their own innocence and wonder and are therefore unable to support ours.
Yet, on this day, I witnessed a child who showed us that to wonder, to think deeply and to want to know more about their faith walk is something that we should all aspire to do. Bless this soul and bless his family for raising him to be someone who had the permission and ability to be an example to us all of what God wants from us. He wants us to draw near. To want to learn more. To ask questions. To seek answers. To love Him. To love each other. Simple rules for life, understood most completely and profoundly by His most precious children.
Jackie Morfesis is a creative, advocate and author. She holds a BFA in fine arts and an MA in liberal studies and is a former Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholar to Greece. She is a Greek Orthodox Christian with an ecumenical spirit.