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The Original "Getting Real"

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Thursday, 1 January 2009

The Kingdom of Childhood

How beautiful is the Kingdom of Childhood when, to quote Wordsworth, "trailing clouds of glory do we come..."; when we can turn a single plank of wood into a ship, a castle, a slide or a see-saw; when we find delight in coloured lights or the crinkling of wrapping paper; when stars are magical talismans and a coloured stone found on a beach is taken for a treasure!

How sad it is that the beautiful magic is so quickly squeezed out of us. We are packed into regimented lines and told to hide all we know to be true. Our angels disappear and the magic fades because we are taught to stop believing in it and we grow up and smile fondly - perhaps even enviously - at little children who still understand what we're really about. If only we grew wiser instead of just older - wiser with the wisdom of the heart that returns us more and more to our original 'clouds of glory', the world would be such a happier place.

2009, the commentators tell us, is to be a year of gloom. If we live by economics alone, and believe that our lives are governed by politicians, bankers and one-dimensional thinkers, that might be the case. But there is something much deeper and I can't help thinking that this so-called meltdown of economies is part of a bigger plan - one in which we no longer hand over everything to that 'grown up' mind that obviously fails at every turn. History teaches us that all we ever gained from that is war upon war, power-seeking upon more power-seeking...What about the angels of our childhood? Is it any more ridiculous to put faith in them, than it is to put faith in bankers and would-be political leaders?

Personally, I believe in angels; I believe that coloured stones on beaches are worth as much as diamonds; I believe that stars aren't just the remnants of some explosion in the galaxies. Looking into things, instead of just at them, I believe in the Spirit of the One Life in trees and plants and lakes and all creatures. And I believe that 2009 is a wonderful year for everyone who chooses to believe it is so.

Coventry Patmore's beautiful poem says it all:

My little Son, who look'd from thoughtful eyes
And moved and spoke in quiet grown-up wise,
Having my law the seventh time disobey'd,
I struck him, and dismiss'd
With hard words and unkiss'd,
—His Mother, who was patient, being dead.
Then, fearing lest his grief should hinder sleep,
I visited his bed,
But found him slumbering deep,
With darken'd eyelids, and their lashes yet
From his late sobbing wet.
And I, with moan,
Kissing away his tears, left others of my own;
For, on a table drawn beside his head,
He had put, within his reach,
A box of counters and a red-vein'd stone,
A piece of glass abraded by the beach,
And six or seven shells,
A bottle with bluebells,
And two French copper coins, ranged there with careful art,
To comfort his sad heart.
So when that night I pray'd
To God, I wept, and said:
Ah, when at last we lie with trancèd breath,
Not vexing Thee in death,
And Thou rememberest of what toys
We made our joys,
How weakly understood
Thy great commanded good,
Then, fatherly not less
Than I whom Thou hast moulded from the clay,
Thou'lt leave Thy wrath, and say,
'I will be sorry for their childishness.'

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