“Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.” (Mark 10:14-15)
This passage from the Gospel of Mark was part of the Sunday Gospel a couple weeks back. I happened to take extra notice of it when I heard it proclaimed and it stayed on my mind as I left church that Sunday. Part of why I think it caught my attention was due to the stories some friends had been sharing about their children and their children’s guardian angels recently. Less than a week before, on October 2, the Church celebrated the feast of the Holy Guardian Angels.
Listening to those stories describing the easy, childlike acceptance of the spiritual world really got me thinking about how much more open to the faith children are. When I then heard the Gospel reading that next Sunday, in particular the passage quoted above, I was reminded again of my own need to be more childlike in my faith. Children have such a pure faith. It seems that as we grow older we lose some of that matter-of-fact, childlike acceptance.
As we begin the Year of Faith, I thought this was a good time to remind ourselves of how that childlike acceptance of faith and the spiritual realm really looks. Only through the eyes of children can we do that. Some of my friends graciously agreed to share some of their stories with me. Some are sad, but demonstrate the sensitivity our children have to the spiritual world all around us. Some will stun you with the easy, matter-of-fact nature in which children accept something extraordinary as if it was completely ordinary. And some are just simply amazing.
After several years of infertility followed by a successful pregnancy, a close friend of mine was shocked to find herself pregnant again with very little assistance. Unfortunately, she lost the baby and was understandably devastated. One day we met for coffee so she could talk and I could be her support. During our conversation she revealed that her 1 year old daughter K saw her little sister. I asked what she meant and she described the situation: Her daughter was sitting in a high chair and suddenly got an odd look on her face. She seemed almost transfixed by something my friend could not see. It lasted just a second and then K smiled sweetly like she had a special secret and was back to her old self. My friend is convinced that she was able to see her baby sister for a moment.
Another friend who also lost a child (her fourth) shared that one of her older daughters, 6 at the time of her baby brother’s death, often speaks of seeing him in her dreams. Recently however, her daughter H described him to her as a little blonde toddler. My friend concluded her story by telling me, “None of the kids in our family are blonde; at best they have light brown hair. What startled me is this is exactly how I see him in my dreams, too, yet I’d never told her that.”
Recently I was sharing my own story of pregnancy loss with someone and discovered that he and his family had also experienced a miscarriage some years back. About three years after that loss he was saying goodnight to his then 11 year old daughter when she started crying. Asking her what was wrong she told him about how much she missed the baby that had died too soon. He was amazed that she still carried that grief with her three years later and in her sensitivity to the situation.
Another dear friend shared this amazing story about her little girl: “Tonight, we were saying our normal round of bedtime prayers and after the Guardian Angel prayer, A, who will be three in just a few weeks, out of the blue told me that she has two angels. It caught me so by surprise that I just stood there for a second, trying to remember what prayer we say next and then I had this overwhelming sense that her Guardian Angels are a pair of ‘twin souls,’ one male and one female. I actually got goosebumps, it was so strange! I finally said, ‘Wow A, that is so neat!’ and she was just like, ‘Yeah.’ 😛 Just so matter-of-fact, like she sees them all the time and it’s no big deal. And then she just started praying the Hail Mary. I was still dwelling on it after I kissed them and left the room and I just thought it was so funny and sweet that it was just such a matter-of-fact thing to her.”
My friend E lost her father when she was 3 years old. Her mother recently told her that not long after her father’s death, during Easter weekend, she dreamed that she was snow skiing with her late-husband, E’s father. The next morning E told her, “Mommy, last night Daddy and I built a snowman!”
Finally, another friend shared an amazing story that I will share here in her own words:
My now 8 yo daughter, M, asked me recently if I’d seen “that big, shining person” in church. She described seeing this “shining person” standing behind one of the young people being confirmed at our parish, with its arms wrapped around the person. What I found interesting is that our family has a devotion to the holy angels. Yet it never occurred to her to describe this being as an angel; she was describing it objectively, as if she wasn’t making the connection with it being a spiritual being. She was just so matter-of-fact about it and was very upset that none of us saw this. Like we were calling her a liar! 😉 We had a talk about it and even the entire time, she kept saying she saw this “shining person” behind the youth and that she couldn’t focus on the Mass because he was so bright.
The “matter-of-fact” way the children in many of these stories accept the spiritual world is amazing. Their unquestioning faith in God and their guardian angels and so much more challenges us to be more open and pure to hearing God in our own lives.
What stories do you have to share?