Recently I heard a recording from a Fr. Richard Rohr presentation called the “Beginners Mind”. It reminded me of how a child reacts to the world. When we arrive in a room with small children, the child looks for the adult with a smile, the one who is open and friendly—the simple detective work of one hunting and searching for love.
Children detect hostility, unfriendliness, and those who are unauthentic in a way that is beyond words. Their agenda is simple; there is no agenda. There is no duality in their thinking, just looking for the one who is most friendly, open, and willing to love. Come play with me is mostly present in their eyes.
How much of this can we learn again in our relationship with God? How many have fallen prey to following the tradition rather than the love? Our Catholic tradition without love is meaningless. Particularly if we start to “preach” tradition in a way that divides us from others rather than unites us in the community of God; the Body of Christ. The Church is universal.
We sometimes need a reminder the word Catholic means universal. For us, this is universal love, and there is nowhere we can feel and hear that word more soundly than in love expressed by a child. A child cannot fend for themselves; they survive only with love. So do I. Without love, I am nothing, just someone looking for a cave to dwell in with a warm fire and a loving friend.
The loving friend we seek is the same one the child in the room opens their heart towards. The love expressed by the adult in the room is filled with the grace of God. And one willing to communicate it freely, willingly with the smile which requires no repayment. Just gift. Pure gift.
Let us return to the “Beginners Mind”, let us unlearn the prejudices and offer ourselves openly to listen to others, even offer love to those we dislike, without scowls or pretense. The child in us all brings us back to the Beginners Mind, when we did not judge, but loved.
And sat silently on the floor waiting for God to come and play with us. Forever.
The disciples need this reminder in today’s Gospel. To trust in God.
Michael Cunningham, OFS, is the Director and CEO of Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center in Sierra Madre, California.