‘Like many toddlers, Oscar seems to have a foot in God’s world.’
In The Principles of the Most Ancient and Modern Philosophy (1690), early Quaker Anne Conway denied there was a literal hell because God was, after all, ‘Gracious, Charity and Goodness Itself.’ Unfortunately, such positive views of Spirit are today still overshadowed by the ‘out there god’ who dominates, interferes, judges and assigns people to eternal torture. In fact, the power of this image even has atheists experiencing its rattling negativities. And yet, for those haunted by this toxic ‘god’, there is freedom:
God who does not dwell on high
In the wide, unwinking sky
And whose quiet counsels start
Simply from the human heart.
Tiny children embody this gentle reassurance of Charles Causley’s poem ‘On Being Asked to Write a School Hymn’. They know. Let me explain.
Some weeks ago my two-year-old grandson, Oscar, came to stay for a while. His time with us included a visit to a nearby waterfall. He’d never seen one. How would he react? Well, he was thrilled, his face full of fascination as he set his eyes upon the natural wonder. Later, we went to a park where he fed animals. His favourite turned out to be a joey kangaroo, and he laughed generously as he handed food to his newfound friend.
Like many toddlers, Oscar seems to have a foot in God’s world, in Love’s oneness. You can tell by the way he, the joey, and perhaps even the waterfall, kind of knew each other from another existence – what Mary Austin, the Australian activist, called that ‘pulsing Light of consciousness’ with its ‘lucent bubble of livingness’, something we tend to forget as we grow older.
Small children instinctively celebrate consciousness, that Love-Light who we all indeed are – the actual God who is tender, vulnerable, peaceful, kind, truthful, patient, simple, equalling, uniting, supportive, liberating, fear-freeing and One. The German philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach understood these as qualities that we project onto a deity of our own making, but I’ve come to see them as segues into Truth manifest as the immediate child we are. In letting our child ‘come unto us’, that is to say, by knowing better the one consciousness that we are, we open ourselves further to the eternal. It is one way we can love-with-wonder (worship), and breathe deep God’s caring balm.
Oscar’s beautiful, innocent welcome of heart cannot help but reflect this real presence, the principle that is pure, the One-derful reality both ‘ancient and modern’ whom we can come to know ‘simply from the human heart’.
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