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The Ageless Wisdom of Childhood

March 3, 2011

Childhood is a magical time. In spite of the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”, innocent beings see life differently. A child has an enormous curiosity, endless good will, hope that won’t quit and complete faith in life. The years may whittle away our innocence and undermine our confidence in life, but I have come to believe that the gifts we were given at birth remain with us far beyond childhood. They have simply gone underground for safekeeping until such time that we can once again appreciate them and put them to good use.

As a child, I lived in the magnificent state of Maine. It was pure heaven for a kid like me. Building snow forts and sucking on icicles were among my favorite pastimes in winter…catching polliwogs and climbing to the top of an enormous rock with my best friend or a picnic in the woods were my summertime delights.  I was too young to realize it was the freezing cold back woods of hell for my mother. It was home to me and I loved it.

I didn’t brood on unpleasant things, such as the very real health issues I had, that I would today, nor did I give them much import.  Nor did I reflect on the drudgery of day-to-day life in school or how difficult it was to be painfully shy. I didn’t lose myself to self-pity, or pay too much attention to the sadness I later recognized at being relegated to the least important member of my family of eight. I found my peace in the woods and by drawing enormous yellow suns on the whitest paper I could find. I created what warmth I could and allowed it to shine down upon me from its thumb tacked position on the wall where it kept me warm despite the coldness in my days.

Children are amazingly resilient creatures. We would benefit from taking a moment to get acquainted with the one that still lives inside of each of us. Perhaps if we take a few moments to look back upon our younger years and roust that innocence from its long winter of hibernation, we might find the remnants of our authentic selves and the strength and wisdom that still reside within us. The hope and joy that comforted us then might just be what we need to face life’s challenges today.

As a child, I knew the face of God, though He did not have a name. I trusted implicitly the outstretched arms of protection that held me securely when I rested in the hollow of an enormous tree. I soaked up the comforting aroma of peace from the woodsy smell of nature and I was inspired by the force of hope as I watched day after day as an enormous icicle grew steadily on the corner of our little house, until it reached the ground. I soaked up with amazement the charity and benevolence of nature as I watched mesmerized by the continuous drip, drip, drip of maple syrup as it flowed from the little tube my Dad and inserted into our Maple tree. I rested in the unending peace that comforted me as I lay in my mother’s lap on Sunday mornings, listening with my whole being to the echo of reverence as it seeped unannounced into my soul and the sweet scent of flickering candles lulled me to sleep. I knew God then. Only I have changed.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. March 3, 2011 10:33 pm

    touching words. thank you.

    • March 4, 2011 12:28 am

      Thank you Sue! So glad you stopped by. I loved the beautiful ice mandala you posted on your blog. Is that a photograph you took?

  2. Wilhelmine Estabrook permalink
    March 3, 2011 10:37 pm

    Being born and brought up in New Brunswick, Canada, a stone’s throw from Houlton, Maine, I know the environment you speak of very well. I too found my source of strength and wonder in the woods and by the brook. (Still do 70 years later.) Although I don’t spend much time thinking about my childhood, I do recall moments…like having that first drink of sap from a maple tree in spring, the smell of new-mown hay or freshly dug potatoes, the curly wool on a newborn lamb..those memories remain with me.
    This winter we have had a lot of snow and for the first time I noticed the high drifts behind the house at the home place, drifts like those we dug tunnels through and made into small rooms. There was such a special light in those snow rooms.
    Today I prefer to stay inside and admire the blue/white wavy snow-sculpture drifts.
    As you can see, your words lighted a spark in my mind. Well done.

    • March 4, 2011 12:31 am

      Oh, yes Wilhelmine! the special light in snow rooms ~ how well I remember! Your words always spark my mind as well. Perhaps we are kindred spirits. 🙂 DS

  3. Andrea permalink
    March 3, 2011 11:58 pm

    Thank you for helping me remember childhood’s joys. Beautiful writing.

    • March 4, 2011 12:32 am

      Thank you for your kind words Andrea, and thank you for taking the time to read and comment. DS

  4. March 4, 2011 2:52 am

    Dorothy –

    Thank you for sharing your childhood memories and your wisdom. You have touched something deep within me with your beautiful, sweet & innocent remembrances.

    Sometimes when I come to realize that I’ve become a bit jaded and “flat”, I will venture forth to the library and check out a childrens’ book. Somehow this act seems to refresh my childhood wonder and curiosity. The stories help me see the world from a child’s point of view rather than a 58 year old’s. ^_^ Or…..I will watch my favorite childhood movie, “To Kill A Mockingbird” and align my younger self with Scout, living out her wonder, curiosity & trust she felt in regards to her father’s love, wisdom and trustworthiness.

    Thanks again for sharing your wonderful story. Tomorrow I’m heading for the childrens’ section of my local library! ^_^

    • March 4, 2011 3:37 am

      I’m always happy to hear that my ramblings have made a difference to someone. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Diane. I think I will follow you to the library! I’ve been wanting to read Pearl Buck’s, The Good Earth, for awhile now. It’s not a children’s book but I read it when I was quite young. I’d like to read it again from this vantage point. Let me know what books you bring home! D

      • March 8, 2011 6:10 pm

        Dorothy – I’ve requested the book entitled “The Tao of Pooh” by Benjamin Hoff. Here’s the synopsis:

        “Thought-provoking and charming”.– “Library Journal”. Not all Great Masters of Wisdom are venerable graybeards. One is as familiar to us as that beloved teddy bear Winnie the Pooh. From the “how” of Pooh to the Tao of Pooh is a simple, effortless, joyous step. . . a delicious journey to Pooh Corner illuminated by the timeless teachings of the Taoist immortals.”

        Happy reading,

  5. March 4, 2011 3:02 pm

    Very inspiring. Love it!

  6. March 10, 2011 3:22 pm

    Your words so eloquently express what so many of us experience. Our childhoods were much the same, although in different locations. I, in a Pennsylvania coal mining town, explored train tunnels, played with the caterpillars, made juice from found berries and built snow houses complete with furniture. I believe we experienced a freedom not so prevalent in today’s society. Yay to those who can be childlike and know the wonder of it.
    Thank you so much for the time travel!

    • March 10, 2011 3:46 pm

      Thanks for stopping by Donna! I was born in Erie, but we moved to Maine when I was three. My relatives lived, and still live in Warren so I traveled to PA often as a child. The proximity to nature played such a big part in our lives as children. I can’t help but wonder what today’s electronically connected child will become. There was such comfort in connecting to the earth then…and now. And freedom…yes, that certainly has vanished. Was it necessary or do we just choose to live in fear? I don’t know. Anyway, come back again soon!

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