By FATHER JAMES S. BEHRENS, OCSO, Commentary | Published August 1, 2013
I recently baptized my new grandniece, Mary Margaret Michalak. My sister Mary had everyone over to her house after the ceremony. Mary and Brian now have eight grandchildren and they all live in the Atlanta area. And they are all young—there are several toddlers among them.
And they all came to the party. And they all had a wonderful time. I was sitting on the couch in the living room, watching them. At one point, Remy, who is about three, decided to run from one room to another and back again. He ran and ran and was laughing all the way. His cousins soon followed suit. It was dizzying to watch. At one point, Remy stopped and took off his shoes and pants, sighed in relief, laughed, and resumed his marathon. I suppose he felt lighter running in just his diaper and shoeless. Running without fear, not caring at all about his banishment of decorum. As Remy ran, his cousin Emily was riding a rocking horse all through the house. She was wearing a pretty red dress, a tiara of sorts with a veil and rhinestones, and little blue clogs. She rode nonstop, avoiding Remy at every turn.
I was struck by how different it all was from adult life. We grow up and leave our rocking horses behind and, hopefully, keep our pants on.
Life brings with it a welter of expectations to look well, act well, fit in with the crowd. It is a gradual process, learning and adapting to the ways of being grown up.
Jesus told his disciples not to be afraid. He told them that God the father watches over them, has a loving concern for every detail of their lives. And he encouraged them to move ahead in life and to leave behind fear and trepidation.
I wonder if there is a way to keep something of the joy and spontaneity of youth as we go through our older years. I wonder if there is a way we can go through life, moving fast through one room after another, learning, enjoying, unafraid, and do so with our pants on and our rocking horses long gone.
It is written that Jesus embraced children. He saw something special in them. And maybe part of that specialness was their capacity to embrace life with an openness and delight, unafraid and brimming with hope, turning every corner with delight and rarely looking back.
Life is a long ride. It brings us through many rooms, many lives. May we all learn that once we leave our wooden horses and tiaras behind, Jesus beckons us to take the reins of hope and to reach for the reins of maturity, and then ride the winds wherever they take us.
Trappist Father James Stephen Behrens is a monk at the Monastery of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit in Conyers. His books are available at the monastery web store at www.abbeystore.com.