If the world around us is a living metaphor for the world of the spirit, then in the relationships we have here, perhaps there is something to be discerned of our soul’s connection to the All.
Christ referred to God as the Father, and the believers as His children. I find this image very rich, because it describes a bond of love, and a scenario in which the Parent creates a loving environment for His child to grow. If God is the Father, and this world that environment, then what does that imply?
Children are engaged in two principles activities as they develop: learning and play. They work too, but hopefully not too much or for too long. We enact laws to prevent this. Too much work robs the child of his childhood; enough work teaches him the meaning of responsibility. There is a balance to be struck.
I believe I am a child of the spirit. This life, like a womb, is a matrix for the development of my higher capacities. Watching over me is a loving Father Who guides my development, but does not interfere. If we pay too much attention to children, or give them the answers, they do not learn for themselves – which is one of their principle activities. If I am a spiritual child, and this world is my first home, then perhaps I, too, have two basic impulses to explore: to learn and to play. There is work, chores, to do, but never so much as to dim my spirit.
What would it mean to learn and play spiritually? I am still learning these things. I find that such learning increases my vision, which engenders virtue, while play is the exploration of my spiritual powers, such as imagination, creativity, invention, and dreams. These are what inspire me, and make me feel amazement at being alive.
There is nothing to say that what earns us money is not also play, in this sense. These two elements exist on separate levels: the material activity and the spiritual. What is important is that the path we choose for ourselves fit our needs as immature beings: that we allow for making mistakes, remember the value of joy, and never lose sight of the fact that life is essentially a thing of wonder and mystery.
The importance of this idea – of recognizing that we are “as little children” – has to do with the plans we make for ourselves and the guidance we give others. If we create an atmosphere in ignorance of the realities of childhood, growth and development may be inhibited. If school and society are too Draconian in their demands, we know it hinders innovation and creativity. If we are too hard on ourselves, we restrict our willingness to try new things, or to change in unexpected ways. This world is intended for our education; we must look to its needs in those terms.
If a community of children were to design a plan of activity intended for adults, it would fail to engage the interest of its members. This happens because what works for adults does not serve children. So if in fact we are children spiritually, things here should have more the character of a playground, and a school, than a place for the endeavors of maturity. To regard it otherwise is to take our lives and our efforts far too seriously, too soon. We end up constantly chastising ourselves for our failures and shortcomings.
If this metaphor describes our relation to life, then our first objective is to learn, and the second is to explore with joy the possibilities of our nature. These two activities increase spirit and cause upliftment. Anything more grave than this, I fear, will lead to weariness, and a simple longing to free. Can that be right? Treat a child as an adult, and he takes no genuine interest in his life. He does what he must, but only because he “should”. Yet if you let a child explore his childhood, he will naturally find his way to joy. It is natural for a child to be happy. They possess an inherent exuberance at being alive. I think our souls, too, share this feeling, whenever we safeguard the requirements of its nature.
If we see ourselves as little children, perhaps we can better understand the value of this existence, and find it easier to fulfill our purpose. We are babes in a mystical sandbox, youth in a spiritual playground, only beginning to discern the purpose for our being. We have chores to accomplish, and laws from the Parent to follow, but otherwise let us enjoy the infancy in our soul’s existence, and take pleasure in the opportunities of life.