"‘Except,’ said Christ, ‘ye become as little children’—and the words are sometimes quoted to justify the flight into infantilism. Now, children differ in many ways, but they have one thing in common. Peter Pan—if indeed he exists otherwise than in the nostalgic imagination of an adult—is a case for the pathologist. All normal children (however much we discourage them) look forward to growing up. ‘Except ye become as little children,’ except you can wake on your fiftieth birthday with the same forward-looking excitement and interest in life that you enjoyed when you were five, ‘ye cannot see the Kingdom of God.’ One must not only die daily, every day one must be born again."
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Meat
"...wake on your fiftieth birthday with the same forward-looking excitement and interest in life that you enjoyed when you were five..." We might even expand this a bit: "as little children" might mean more than just physical immaturity: Adam and Eve were physical adults, but they were infants in understanding and experience. Just so, we were once "children" in areas like marriage, work, and parenting. (In an instructive phrasing, theologian James Jordan says that, from one perspective, the early Church "Fathers" were actually "Church Babies.")
When considered this way, it's interesting to think how many areas of life Sayers' observation might apply to. Do we still approach our work and calling with the same zeal as when we were twenty-five? Do we still enter our marriage bed with the same passion as on our wedding night? Do we still spend as much time with our kids as when they were toddlers and we were new parents? Do we still gaze on the mysteries of the world with the same wonder as when we were three? Do we still look to the future with the same hope as when we were eighteen?
Such an attitude does not come easy. But if Sayers is right in her application of Christ's words, we have no option but to try.
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