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Living a Holy Life Is Child\’s Play

March 25, AD2014 13 Comments

\"Melanie

Just  like C.S. Lewis,  I was Surprised by Joy.  Of course, there are certain serious Catholic bloggers who have a problem with my spirituality. Often traditional, Pre-Vatican ll prophets of doom, who religiously fast and recite prescribed set prayers for hours each day, take the exception to my childlike spirit of joy. Yet this path was not of my choosing. I craved the life of an intense regime of self-sacrifice as a consecrated, contemplative religious. When God called me to marriage and to be a mother, I really did feel like I was taking second best. Then, twenty years ago, a consecrated, lay contemplative who served in a  listening house,  said to me, \”You really have been given the best of both worlds. You are married with children yet you are living the contemplative life.”

Her response still brings tears to my eyes. To live a childlike spirituality of joy is not easy for a modern day adult. I have been through decades of counselling and spiritual direction to allow Jesus to heal me, and save me from myself, my fears, and my ego. I have decades yet to travel through. There are tears in my eyes now, because so few understand the little way of surrender. It was my children who stripped me and formed my spirituality. Anne Lamont articulates my little way:

I think joy and sweetness and affection are a spiritual path. We’re here to know God, to love and serve God, and to be blown away by the beauty and miracle of nature. You just have to get rid of so much baggage to be light enough to dance, to sing, to play. You don’t have time to carry grudges; you don’t have time to cling to the need to be right. 

Some religious people would maintain that only an active adult Christian can act lovingly. Yet even Sacred Scriptures disagrees with this narrow view.  St. Paul explains that God will judge everyone by how much truth God has revealed to them. If a tribe hidden in the jungle has never heard the gospel, God will  judge based on what they know. St. Paul assures us that all men have the basic laws of God carved into their hearts. In modern language, we all have an awareness of good and evil or a conscience, even the smallest child.

The problem is tapping into and living out from my core where God has inscribed a moral code on my heart. It is  hidden in my deepest self. Actually, if we can block out our own ego and selfishness, and simply stop and listen, even a child knows what is right and what is wrong. In my experience, children are capable of the highest moral action, acting purely  from a heart full of love.

Thank God for Christ, because He offers even adults an easy way to love and to put that love into action.  Relax. Give up striving. Surrender to His love and let it saturate every cell of your body. Then simply let His love flow through you. It ends up being a long journey to such carefree lifestyle, because pride and ego get in the way. It is so simple that it seems complicated to our adult, logical minds.

No wonder Jesus praises the child,

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”  [Matthew 19:14]

And in even stronger terms,

“I assure you,” He said, ‘unless you are converted and become like children, , you will never get into the kingdom from heaven…’” [Matthew 18:4]

A relationship to the living God is child’s play. Listen to this exchange between my young children.

One afternoon, I was making dinner, standing at the counter with my back to our three youngest children. Katie and Anthony were lounging around the kitchen table, with three-year-old Lucy perched like a little elf on a high stool, happily swinging her legs.

Simply making conversation, Katie, who was about eight yeard old, asked Lucy, “Lucy, whose your favorite, mum or dad?”

Lucy replied,”Both!”

Still facing the counter, I looked over my shoulder and intruded on their conversation. “Smart answer, Lucy.”

Although, Lucy was not done, and responded, “But she’s not my real mum, Mary is.”

Katie rolled her eyes, slapped her forehead with the palm of her hand and said incredulously, “Where does she get this stuff?”

I tried to explain as simply as I could. “Well, the Holy Spirit is in her heart and she listens to His voice.”

Lucy jumped right back into the discussion and chanted in a sing-song, lilting voice. “That’s right. God the Father in my heart. Baby Jesus in my heart. Holy Spirit in my heart. Mother Mary in my heart…. but…. I still like mum and dad the best!”

Katie rolled her eyes and plunked her head down on the table with a loud sigh. “Where does she get this stuff?”

I just laughed.

A few weeks later, as I crouched down to tie Lucy’s shoelace, Lucy picked up the small gold cross I wore around my neck and said, “This is the cross of Jesus and the glory of God shines all around it.”

Katie rolled her eyes again, slapped her forehead and asked, WHERE does she get this stuff?

She gets it right from the source of all truth. She is humble and little enough to remain open long enough to listen to the voice of God within her and to love Him in return. She is pure enough to love those around her with a child\’s devoted love, a love, in fact, that is worthy of a saint.

© 2014. Melanie Jean Juneau. All rights reserved.

About the Author:

Melanie Jean Juneau is a petite wife, writer and mother of nine children who blogs at joy of nine9. When the words "The Joy of Mothering on a Hobby Farm" popped into her head as a subtitle for her short stories, it was like an epiphany for her because those few words verbalized her experience living with little people.The very existence of a joyful mother of nine children seems to confound people. Her writing is humorous and heart warming; thoughtful and thought provoking with a strong current of spirituality running through it. Part of her call and her witness is to write the truth about children, family, marriage and the sacredness of life, especially a life lived in God.

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  • http://www.dianemckelva.com/ Diane McKelva

    Melanie, I so love this perspective you have. “The problem is tapping into and living out from my core where God has inscribed a moral code on my heart. It is hidden in my deepest self. Actually, if we can block out our own ego and selfishness, and simply stop and listen, even a child knows what is right and what is wrong. In my experience, children are capable of the highest moral action, acting purely from a heart full of love.”
    So true. Thank you for reminding us as we walk through this world filled with challenges and compromises. Your perspective is the peaceful reminder I needed.
    God bless you.
    Diane

    • melanie

      When I reread the sections you pick out from my own writing, I am surprised how great my words sound- sounds ludicrous doesn’t it? Must be that the Holy Spirit is more in charge than I realize

  • John Darrouzet

    God blesses you and through you all of us who are presented with the gift of your words! Thanks!

    • melanie

      It is just that, a joyful gift, pure and simple..ha..It just took decades to set it free!

  • Mar

    This is beautiful Melanie.

    • melanie

      thank-you

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  • GHM_52

    What a heart & soul-lifting article! Thank-you! And by the way, I am one of those who likes the solemnity and reverence usually found in pre-Vatican II days….But, also find no incompatibility between that and a child-like spirituality. My two favorite saints are the Little Flower and Brother Lawrence (not sure the latter is canonized); both represent the spirituality that you and I prefer. Keep on bringing the absolute joy of Christ and Mother Mary to all who read your articles. Yours is the work of God!

    • melanie

      laughing, you are absolutely right; there is no incompatibility. It is those few so called traditionalists who are angry, self-rightous and judgemental who cast traditionalists in a poor light. I am a convert since I was 19 and I delight in the smell of incense, the sight of candles and the awe of a silent reverence that is embued with the Presence of God

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  • David Peters

    Melanie, we love your sense of joy! I so appreciate you writing about surrendering to His love and allowing His love to work through us. “Stop striving” is sometimes so difficult to do but surrender is the key that unlocks the door. I love the story of Katie and Lucy! God bless.

    • melanie

      this is one of my favorite stories about when one of my kids spoke the word of God

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