Spiritual humility is not about getting small, not about debasing oneself, but about approaching everything and everyone else with a readiness to see goodness and to be surprised. This is the humility of a child, which Jesus lauded. It is the humility of the scientist and the mystic. It has a lightness of step, not a heaviness of heart. That lightness is the surest litmus test I know for recognizing wisdom when you see it in the world or feel its stirrings in yourself. The questions that can lead us are already alive in our midst, waiting to be summoned and made real. It is a joy to name them. It is a gift to plant them in our senses, our bodies, the places we inhabit, the part of the world we can see and touch and help to heal. It is a relief to claim our love of each other and take that on as an adventure, a calling. It is a pleasure to wonder at the mystery we are and find delight in the vastness of reality that is embedded in our beings. It is a privilege to hold something robust and resilient called hope, which has the power to shift the world on its axis.
―Krista Tippett, Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living
As we grow we seem to go further and further away from that child which rests within. But there was no choice and so we wander beyond innocence, beyond the touch of insanity and groom ourselves into the tastes of the society, fit in to their needs and instead of becoming a part of them we become like them.
Image: A child dressed in uniform, 1915, Australian War Memorial Collection
None of your knowledge, your reading, your connections will be of any use here: two legs suffice, and big eyes to see with. Walk alone, across mountains or through forests. You are nobody to the hills or the thick boughs heavy with greenery. You are no longer a role, or a status, not even an individual, but a body, a body that feels sharp stones on the paths, the caress of long grass and the freshness of the wind. When you walk, the world has neither present nor future: nothing but the cycle of mornings and evenings. Always the same thing to do all day: walk. But the walker who marvels while walking (the blue of the rocks in a July evening light, the silvery green of olive leaves at noon, the violet morning hills) has no past, no plans, no experience. He has within him the eternal child. While walking I am but a simple gaze.
I wish to write down my musical dreams in a spirit of utter self-detachment. I wish to sing of my interior visions with the naïve candor of a child. No doubt, this simple musical grammar will jar on some people. It is bound to offend the partisans of deceit and artifice. I foresee that and rejoice at it.
–As quoted in Claude Debussy: His Life and Works (1933) by Léon Vallas
Sharing secrets is the way in which women tie themselves together, for it reveals complicity and trust. Holding secrets shows trustworthiness and a sort of quiet defiance. It is a natural thing for a female to hold secrets within her breast until the time is ripe to release them. Does it not follow the way in which her body is formed? A woman is made with that dark and mysterious recess that can grow a child safely until the child is ready to come out onto the birthing bed. And like birthing, secrets present themselves in many ways. Some slip easily into the world, others must be torn out, if the body is unwilling.
― Kathleen Kent, The Heretic’s Daughter
“I’m hurt, hurt and humiliated beyond endurance, seeing the wheat ripening, the fountains never ceasing to give water, the sheep bearing hundreds of lambs, the she-dogs, until it seems the whole country rises to show me its tender sleeping young while I feel two hammer blows here instead of the mouth of my child.”
Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon.