Innocence in mind and heart has become a lost virtue in our increasingly godless society.
While parents often tried to protect their children from learning the harsh and often cruel realities of the world until at least they reached puberty, today purveyors and despoilers of this youthful innocence have entered into the playroom with early sex education, vulgarities of all sorts and adult fads in dress and speech.
Peer pressure through the social media among those who have already gone over to the other side makes childhood even more difficult.
The term baby doll has long represented a sexually active young woman with child like characteristics or even sometimes a pre-teen who has been thrown into the adult mix of sexual trafficking the drug culture.
She seems to be the avatar of the future for young women.
This is all a sad and serious commentary on the state of America’s fallen society.
Kids grow up physically much faster today as so many diets seemed laced with all kinds of synthetic hormones that reduce the puberty age to near-kindergarten age.
This has made it even more imperative that those untainted by the world, the flesh and the devil maintain a spirit of childlike innocence and wonder that can ward against these influences.
This does not mean that one should be immature or a Peter Pan in mid-flight who just refuses to grow up.
To the contrary it means that adults make a conscious endeavor to look, not at the sordid side of the block that society is selling but on the sunny side where faith, morality and all the personal virtues of self-giving and sacrifice can preserve that sense of purity in one’s heart and soul.
While the body grows, the soul develops natural antidotes of faith, hope and charity to combat the external forces that would tear it apart.
The old Brooklyn Dodger, catcher Roy Campanella used to say that to play baseball there has to be a lot of the little boy in you.
I have always quipped that I was only 12 years old emotionally and that I was terrified of the eventual onset of puberty with its attendant pimples and girls and the like.
There may be some truth to that in that since I have noticed a pattern in my life with my own, children, nieces, nephews and grandchildren that they all seemed to outgrow me at and about their thirteenth year.
They were all cool with me before then. They usually laughed at my corny jokes and I could down and dirty with them on the floor as we rough-housed, played all sorts of athletics games–indoors and were generally a menace to anything breakable.
But when the clock struck thirteen, Dad, Uncle Bill or Daddy B wasn’t quite as cool or as fun to be with. When they laughed at my jokes I often felt they were laughing at me.
I think this is the reason that I have begged all of the above to skip the years as Pat Boone wrote one time Twix twelve and twenty.
I think I knew that society would take that innocence away from them and they could no longer share my simple joy of living and experiencing what I call the sense of Wow in everyday things.
I have seen that 1000 yard stare as they used to call the look of soldiers who had seen too much and done too much that could be shared with the people back home.
I see a similar look–the stare of the teenager. It is a cold and hard stare that looks through you. It means to me that they have gotten themselves involved sexually way before their time and they feel themselves like a rudderless ship just spinning around in a vortex of despair and guilt.
Fortunately most survive.
When they turned 20 they usually revive a little more interest in me. But it is a different kind of relationship and little like it was before. The natural teacher in me took the baton from my child within. We now talk of what it is like to face a world full of wonder, surprises and grave consequences.
Through all these changes that little child of wonder is still alive and well and living in the nursery of my soul.
Every time I spy a little child in a stroller or seated in a high chair at some restaurant—especially the little girls–I see the face of God. I see it in their smiles, their laughter and occasionally in their tears. It is this simple joy that lifts my soul and finds sunshine where often there is darkness and even evil.
I remember John Wayne saying as his character Davy Crockett in the epic film, The Alamo when seeing a little dirty-faced girl leave with the civilians during the last hours of the Mexican siege, it a shame they have to grow up.
His unspoken words were …and see all this death, destruction and cruelty of war.
Matthew’s Gospel tells us that unless we change and become like little children, we will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Perhaps that’s what the epitaph of addict and poet Francis Thompson’s tombstone means: when you get to heaven look for me in God’s nursery.
I hope that counts for me and my 12-year old emotions, although I do plan to first make a stop at that special beach I have written about in a prior two-part post.