Saturday, January 9, 2016


What, if anything, do you remember of the little-child phase of your life?  I remember so little of mine. I hope you remember more of yours.

What I do recall is good. I can remember my mother handing me over to a church nursery attendant who held me, soothed me, and kept me from crying. This happened routinely when I was an infant and now it’s a memory I hold dear. Later, I came to know the nursery attendant by name (Verna Rasmussen) and by the kindly particulars of her personality.

I can’t recall many other distinct memories more from my infancy, but I'm sure that the care I received formed the cultural foundation of my life. 

As an adult, have you observed the infant phase of a child, probably your own child? You may recall experiencing both pride and enormous irritation. The feeding, cleaning, teaching, and all else that goes into caring for an infant come to mind, along with the smiles and tears that kids produce. 

It’s difficult to imagine the infancies of Nikita Khrushchev and Lyndon Baines Johnson or other more current super-strong adults. The change from infancy’s dependency to adult power projection is truly phenomenal. What's important is that infant learnings serve as the foundation for youthful self-discovery, a constructive adulthood and a good death.

If you’re reading this in a tropical African village, you'll know that little children are always with you, toddling around the walkways between houses, looking for food or a friend. In a way, the entire village becomes the parent. Hillary Clinton is right: it takes a village to raise a child.   

Jesus is remembered as saying: “Let the little children come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14.) Jesus saw potential in every child, in contrast to adults in general, who had a far lower view of the same children.

Also very touching: in Islamic tradition the call to prayer is whispered by an elder into the newborn’s ear shortly after birth. Ideally, these are the first words a child hears

Religious views of infancies focus on the eternal light that shines through the infant (especially when the child is in a good mood, some might add). That’s a reason that families celebrate every single birth: the newborn will bridge generations by bringing ancient and eternal light and passing it on into the future.

Children, though we adore them, are far from perfect. It’s the role of the family and the community to teach, coax out and reward the love of fairness and peace, the practice of self-control, the quest for knowledge. Parents and relatives, community caregivers, teachers and health care practitioners all play vital roles in kids’ journeys of self-discovery, even while the infants renew the world around them just by their presence.

              Jesus' cradle scene, flanked by the globe (dimly, left) a traditional African fan (right rear) and an American ceramic (right front.)

Epiphany: the Christian religious season right now.  celebrating the light that the infant Jesus brought into the world. Christians correctly recognize here a model infancy for us  for every generation. 

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Also see last week's post, just below: 



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