The 1999 comedy film, Baby Geniuses, with Sylvester and his infant cohorts gleefully outwitting the sinister Doctors Kinder and Heep, is an all-time favorite at The Elizabeth House. Unlike Dan Bobbin, we cannot for the most part understand baby babble, and try as we might, we can’t remember that time long ago before we “crossed over.” But deep down we all know that somewhere in the limpid gaze of a newborn is hidden a secret wisdom, something that we once knew but have long since forgotten. Something that makes it impossible to look into those eyes without smiling and feeling that a little bit of heaven is looking back out at us.
What did we forget as we grew and crawled, walked and ran and learned, through childhood and on into adulthood, leaving our infancy obscured beyond the reaches of our mediocre memories? And what exactly did Jesus mean when he told his disciples, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these?” (Matt 19:14)
Maybe we forgot something when we ceased to be helpless. Maybe as we grew physically stronger something inside of us grew gradually weaker. Our expanding intellect may have supplanted a God given knowledge, and as our line of sight expanded maybe an inner eye was dimmed.
In their complete helplessness and innocence, babies are able to be something that we as adults cannot be. Completely dependent, an infant lives in absolute trust and acceptance. Looking up at someone without judgement or reserve, a baby loves unconditionally, sharing a moment of heaven sent joy through its beautiful eyes. And so it is in our little ones that we see that indeed, “my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9).
For centuries men and women have pursued perfection through knowledge, science, warfare and exploration, yet it has proved elusive. Somewhere along the way we missed something. When I look at a baby, I think I see a little hint of that something, and I remember the words of Jesus, “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Mark 10:15).
By Talita Shirky, a MissionCorps member