Adults should not undervalue the child within them

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, May 28, 2008

There are so many ways in which I love to celebrate this wonderful community in which I live. Before sitting down to write this week’s column I had just returned from showing two of our Calgary coffee companions, Denise Kokaram and Bob Skoye, around Cochrane. In particular, I took them to two of the coffee shops that are spawning grounds for ideas developed in this column.

Of course, there are many out-of-town readers who like to participate in our Cochrane coffee chats but are not always able to be physically present with us. So they join us by e-mail, as with the following responses to our current topic on the innocence of infant instinct versus more fully honouring our adulthood.

Calgarian Sandy Corenblum, an advisor on culture and spirituality, never underestimates the value of childlike wonder. She wrote:

“We can more fully honour adulthood by always keeping a special part of us as a child. I seldom like to be around people who have forgotten what it’s like to be a child. It’s a special place that lives in all of us, if we nurture it.”

Former Bow Valley resident Pamela Showler, currently completing graduate studies in theology down east, agrees with Sandy. Especially about the newborn’s instinctive experience of love and attraction toward God, Pamela wrote:

“One's concept of God is the notion of love, and we do not learn love; instead, it is inherent in us. What we learn is how to inspire and foster love. Let's look at love in our day-to-day lives, link this to others, and pursue expressions of love that can make a difference here on the ground instead of whirling around in theory. Let’s remain open to the natural practicality that is in the eyes of children, for here there is a purity of innocence to life, and there is a lot to be said about its clarity and honesty.”

Cremona reader Kathie Reid was reflecting on our past three columns as she was having some quality time with two of her pre-school grandchildren while their parents were away for a few days of quality time of their own. She wrote:

“Our grandson, age two, is not having a good time sleeping here at our place, even though his four-year-old sister is here, too, and is perfectly comfortable. What I am observing in our grandson is what I think happens to our faith-hope-love: we become insecure. Some – perhaps most – of us carry that insecurity throughout our lives, even if we know and love God. ‘Does He really love me? Can I really count on Him?’

“The answers are no more evident sometimes than the answers to a child's insecurity when Mommy and Daddy are away for several days. As a mother, I know that my daughter and son-in-law need to reconnect by being away from the children, with only each other. The kiddies will have a happier, more loving home because of this trip, but our grandson cannot understand that. So he is very insecure tonight. Children always have so much to teach us adults.”

Edmonton coffee companion Dudley Baker responded with a story his wife had come across. About the story he commented, “We do forget where we come from, but it is a good thing we are always called back, one way or another.” He wrote:

“A mother overheard her young daughter leaning over the crib of her newborn brother and saying, ‘Tell me what God looks like; I'm beginning to forget.’”

I’ll return to a Cochrane reader for the final word. Henry Schmidt e-mailed me to say that my April 30 column on tree trunks reminded him of his poem about trees, the first two stanzas of which he wrote some years ago while teaching. He went on to say that our recent discussion on infants and adults inspired him to add a third stanza, as follows:

When you were tall and in your prime
And full of leaves, I loved to climb
Your smooth-barked limbs – and reach the top
Sway in the breeze and laugh a lot.

Your bark’s now gnarled – few leaves to rake;
Your boughs more rigid, more prone to break.
And I find climbing hard to do . . .
The way of trees we all must go.

But look, down at the roots below,
A new shoot’s begun to sprout and grow.
Reminding me of new life ahead
At the resurrection of the dead.

Thank you, my coffee companions. What an honour to sit at Cochrane cafe tables with you, both literally and virtually. It’s such a great way to indulge the child within us as we grow older.

© 2008 Warren Harbeck

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