A Child's Table: The Treasure of Spiritual Childhood

Having that Snow White dream on Easter, its really stirred something up (or rather stirred it up more) about the treasure of "childness". In a few ways.....

First there is its impact on homemaking. I just love this qoute, from

"It has been said before and I'm sure you have heard it from time to time, to think of a little girl when she is dreaming and pretending to be a wife and mother. She does not hurry through her tasks, but relishes each one. She does not quickly stash things away in her little cabinets, but stacks them neatly. Now I realize that some chores are just that - chores. But taking the time to do them properly will make such a difference in the overall mood and tone of your home.

There is no shame in taking your time with things. Do not put yourself in the frame of mind to think that every single thing that could possibly be accomplished on any given day HAS to be accomplished on that day...When you give yourself permission to take the time needed to attend to quality in regards to your homemaking, your house will have no choice but to fall into a state of cozy order within the ensuing days. "

And it goes deeper too, there is what St Therese calls "spiritual childhood". She had a special devotion to Our Lord through his childhood, knowing full well that Christ's early life was just as core as his later life, and his humble and peace focused homelife in Nazareth just as core as his dramatic last three years of life with His ministry.

(Verse on the holy card below is:
The Lord is mighty and worthy of all worship
The Lord is small and worthy of all love

So St Therese focused on living life in a childlike trusting way that combined spiritual childhood and holy poverty... those very things so thriving in the Holy Family in Nazareth, and those very things also so striking in the Beatitudes:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven"
"Unless you turn and become like little children, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven"

here, a qoute from St Therese:

"It is needful to remain little before God and to remain little is to recognize one's nothingness, expect all things from the good God just as a little child expects all things from its father; it is not to be troubled by anything, not to try to make a fortune. Even among poor people, a child is given all it needs, as long as it is very little, but as soon as it has grown up, the father does not want to support it any longer and says: "Work, now you are able to take care of yourself". Because I never want to hear these words I do not want to grow up, feeling that I can never earn my living, that is, eternal life in heaven. So I have stayed little, and have no other occupation than of gathering flowers of love and sacrifice and of offering them to the good God to please Him....it means not be to discouraged by one's faults because children often fall but they are too little to hurt themselves badly."

This confidence in God leads Saint Theresa, by paths of poverty of spirit and self-forgetfulness, to a wonderful simplification of spiritual life. In fact, how could she have failed to notice that the kingdom of heaven is offered not only to little children but also to the poor in spirit, and almost in the same words (again, see the Beatitudes above)"

And from

"The world came to know Therese through her autobiography, Story of a Soul. She described her life as a "little way of spiritual childhood." She lived each day with an unshakeable confidence in God's love. "What matters in life," she wrote, "is not great deeds, but great love." She lived and taught a spirituality of attending to everyone and everything well and with love. She believed that just as a child becomes enamored with what is before her, we should also have a childlike focus and totally attentive love. Therese's spirituality is of doing the ordinary, with extraordinary love."

And it was more too, an admitting of weakness, of vulnerability, of need, of those very things we sadly try and downplay...for she knows they are actually openings for Gods love to enter us and guide us. Her focus reminds me very much of Brother Lawrence's, who knew so well that that he was nothing unless God were helping him, and so rather than despair from his failings or failures he simply threw himself upon His mercy and care continually just like a child. They both sought more to please than to "achieve".

St Therese puts it so beautifully this way (quote found
"I tell you that it is enough to recognize one's nothingness and to abandon one's self like a child in the arms of God".

A bit more about this, from

(Then) opening the Book of Wisdom, her eyes fell on these lines: "If anyone is very small, let him come to me."

Further on in the Gospels she read in St.Matthew (18:3) "Unless you become converted and become as little children, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven;" and "for such is the kingdom of God." (Mk 10:34)

Here it was! This is what her heart had been seeking. This discovery was the turning point in the life of Thérèse....

To act as a child . . . (she) practiced the characteristic virtues of a child. As Pope Pius XI wrote concerning spiritual childhood: 'It consists in thinking and acting under the influence of grace as a child thinks and acts.'

As God's mercy demands our nothingness and weakness as an essential complement, Thérèse lived her life permeated with the consciousness of her own nothingness and God's all-ness....

Having abandoned herself completely to merciful Love, the past she threw upon the mercy of
God and the future she placed in the hands of His Providence. Then she simply and confidently concerned herself with the loving performance of His Will as manifested in the duties of the present moment.

There was no useless or paralyzing preoccupation with self -- no anxiety or demoralizing fears. Each moment brought her God and what God desired from her in return. Every moment brought her God, His Will, His grace and His reward. And at every moment she returned her attention, her faith, her love...."

And something about this focus on spiritual childhood reminds me too of some things that really "stayed" from a wonderful book, Elizabeth Goudge's Green Dolphin Street. In one passage, Margeurite's Mother Superior says:

"We glimpse reality in childhood, in those sudden, flashing moments when the veil of appearance suddenly slips and we are aware of something beyond, something indescribable and incomprehensible, but incomparatively lovely. If you remember your childhood at all, you will remember those moments. All our life afterwards is a search for the reality we saw then---saw without understanding and lost. We think of it as a place, a person, a state, according to our temperaments".

For Marguerite, whose temperament was one of a contemplative, it was a state. In her childhood she would have these moments when she felt things around her were "fairy" (a girl after my own heart, smile, i still cling to that phrase that reminds me of this deeper part of childhood, that of "following fairy bells"). As she grew, what was behind this became clearer and one day she realized:

" Fairyland...Paradise ...In this place and at this time, Marguerite could know that the one was a parable of the other, and both were synonyms for something that had no name."

And i love this scene near the end, when she was speaking with her dearest friend William:

"They could see the floor of the bay covered with silver sand, and the rocks draped with purple brown weed, and the anemone pools.

'It seemed to me a fairy place when i was a child', said Marguerite . " I saw the pebbles with fat, smiling faces and the amenomes with mad, bright eyes. I wish I could see them that way now."

'You will', said William with conviction."

This is that em-bell-ish-ment feeling...the deeper magic of things shining through as the veil lifts. Emily of New Moon (can't resist) would call it "the flash". I wonder what those in Biblical times called it? Maybe the words for it didnt matter, because its so clear some of them ~lived~ this so deeply, truly kept that vital awe and wonder, the wide eyes and "littleness" of a spiritual child in awe of their Creator.

There is something so very core here i feel, in this area of spiritual childhood....

(First two images i'm not sure of the source, but the last one is from

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