“The child is father to the man.” (William Wordsworth)
Childhood is both source and destiny.
From the earliest age we were taught to leave childhood and “grow up.” We were taught to name things and, by naming, separate each creature from the matrix of the cosmic womb. This was called, “developing the mind.” They taught us the skill of addition. But we have to teach ourselves the skill of subtraction and return.
To name and count, we developed the tool of mind. It was a useful tool. But we made the tragic mistake of identifying this tool as our very self. Falling into multiplicity, we created a world of credit and debt, ever mounting days and years, the mortality of accumulation. We fell from the grace and fatness of the divine cipher.
But real adulthood means acknowledging that the child cannot be lost or counted small. Our childhood was not a 1 to which we added more. It was and is the vastest zero, where name and number dissolve like figures drawn in air, and the pointing finger stops, curling back to the thumb in sleeping baby’s mudra.
Childhood is the energy of primal awareness whence namarupa, name and form, arise. We can no more leave our childhood than the wave can leave the sea. We can only redeem it, as the timeless undercurrent of each now. So Jesus said, “You must be like a little child to enter the kingdom.”
Childhood won’t let us forget the flood,
the withering crossfire of our father’s blood;
lays her wizened fingers on our shoulder,
whispers, “You’re not getting any older.”
Age-freckled glory to the newborn crone,
the wrinkled wincer, bald and soft of bone,
shape-shifting infant, birthless, ancient, wild,
the frowning in our smile, the buried child.
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