by DCH Park
A mother comes home from the hospital with her new child. She is met at the door by her 4 year old son. He’s excited to be an older brother and she’s happy.
As the days go by, she notices that her 4 year old is spending a lot of time with the baby. He watches her change it and feed it. He sings to it. He spends hours every day silently watching it sleep.
At first, she attributes this attentiveness to his excitement but his behavior doesn’t change. She tries to be patient but finally asks him why he’s spending so much time with the baby.
He replies very matter-of-factly, “Mommy, I’m beginning to forget the face of God.”
Whether you call it “God,” or not, whether you see it as an impersonal force, something intimately involved in your personal life, something else entirely, or whether you discount the existence of a divine being at all, it is undeniable that something is going on. Children are born joyful and in the moment. They are completely present. As soon as their concerns are addressed they stop crying and return to their peaceful, joyful state, the upset completely forgotten.
Scientific evidence now shows that the child psychologists’ standard lines about object permanence – one of the first set of expectations that babies have about the world – the age at which it develops, and how it develops are, at best, incomplete. There is a form of object permanence that occurs before conventional “wisdom” says object permanence is supposed to develop. This form of object permanence has to do with trends. Perhaps “trend permanence” would be a better name. Perhaps we are born with it. Not only that, this “trend permanence” persists throughout life. It can be seen even in adult decisions. (See Baillargeon R , DeVos J., “Object permanence in young infants: further evidence”, Child Dev. 1991 Dec; 62(6):1227-46, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1786712, retrieved 2 JUL 14.)
Is it possible that the same is true of things like joy and silence later in life? Might joy and peace be natural states that we are all heir to, just as we are all heir to breathing? Is it possible that we have it backward, or more correctly, that what we thought we knew, the way we have been characterizing things somehow distorts things? Could it be that joy and silence are not hallmarks of childish silliness but instead are reflections of an inexpressible wisdom that transcends life itself?
I remember hearing the little boy story for the first time. It’s not that I recall all of the physical details but I recall how powerful it was, how the teacher cried, and how I felt when I heard it. I wasn’t alone in feeling that, either. I suspect that I’m not alone now.
When stories evoke such powerful feelings, it is because they touch upon something true. Our challenge is to discern and to live by that truth.
Such discernment is not a static thing. It is not something that you can do once and expect it to never change. On the other hand, it is definitely amenable to pulling together with others. By this, I don’t mean to say that you need to go along with the crowd, but you do benefit from really hearing other people’s points of view. Remember the parable of the blind men and the elephant? None of them was wrong but none of their descriptions was complete either. The whole truth of life encompasses everyone’s observations, just as the whole truth of the elephant encompassed all of the blind men’s observations.
Until you are willing to listen to others, learn from others, and enlarge your sense of the truth to encompass everyone, you are bound to be incomplete in your experiences of the truth. Such openness starts with healing the wounds in yourself. It is necessary first to recognize and heal the wounds in yourself because as you heal the wounds in yourself, you are naturally more flexible and open – you have fewer sore spots. This allows you to be more open to the truth and more ready to accept it regardless of where it comes from, even when it comes from someone else.
Until we can do that, each person remains literally separate.
More of the book, The Circle of Existence can be found at www.smashwords.com.
© 2015, David Park. All Rights Reserved.
”The Circle of Existence – Prologue” by DCH Park is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.