Children do not experience time the way adults do. They are completely whole, interconnected, and in the present.
"Be like children" (Mt 18:3)--what can this mean? Is not our whole civilization focused on the task of turning children into adults, of making them as smart, as analytical, and as prosaic beings as we ourselves are? And are not all our discussions and arguments directed precisely at the adults for whom childhood is simply a time of development, of preparation, a time precisely for overcoming any childishness in oneself?
And yet, "Be like children," says Christ, and also: "Do not hinder the children to come unto me" (Mt 19:14). And if this is said, then there is no reason to be ashamed of the unquestionable childlikeness that is connected with religion itself, and to every religious experience. It is not accidental that the first thing we see as we enter a church is the image of a child, the image of a young mother holding a child in her arms; and this is precisely what is most important in Christ--the Church is concerned with the fact that we should not forget this first and most important revelation of the divine in the world. For the same Church further affirms that Christ is God, Wisdom, Mind, Truth. But all of this is first of all revealed in the image of this child; it is precisely this revelation that is the key to everything else in religion.
Renowned Russian Orthodox priest Alexander Schmemann delivered the following Radio Liberty address to the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Originally published in "Sermons and Conversations," it is reprinted from the recent essay collection "Tradition Alive." with permission of Rowman and Littlefield.
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