Waiting to Exhale. Rough roads can drain the enthusiasm out of our life journey. Over time we might disengage, to some degree, from our connection to the experience.
The other day, I noticed a young toddler strolling hands free aside his mother down a sidewalk outside my apartment. He was wrapped cozily in a heavy, warm snowsuit. Each step distinguished by a whoosh of his bulky leggings. His little face beaming from out under the snuggly hood.
What mostly caught my attention was the child’s undeniable pleasure; seemingly impervious to the drag of the cumbersome outfit. I was riveted by the sparkle of his playful energy; fascinated by his ecstatic buoyancy.
Many of us have long forgotten how to engage life with such deep pleasure. Our hearts and minds are increasingly distracted by the natural course of pain and loss. And though most of us have developed a great resiliency to life’s bumps, we don’t breathe as deep as we did as children. We have become distracted by restless processing. And consequently, our minds are less pliable and more rigid; our hearts less vulnerable and more invincible. Our muscles have tightened and the inner child has become quiet.
In my experience as a pastor, the image of this toddler represents something we all seek; a lighthearted, unabashed, and fully engaged connection to the world around us. And, regarding such a task, it’s important to note that the toddler was not in therapy, nor familiar with a spiritually enlightened guru; nor practicing a form of yoga; nor read up on all the new age literature for creating one’s own Paradise.
Instead, the toddler’s spirit naturally bubbled up from a hallowed spring inside him. It was not dependant on learning or practice. No creed had to be recited; and no act of contrition was demanded. Its nature reminiscent, perhaps even parallel to, the uninhibited innocence depicted by Adam and Eve who lived large and carefree in the garden at Eden; and, perhaps additionally likened, to the eastern concepts of Moksha and Nirvana (states of mind unaffected by mundane concerns).
Nonetheless, to rediscover the bliss exemplified by that strolling toddler, we might seek a connection, like does the toddler, to the untainted and sanctified spring that waits eternally inside us. And though we may never re-experience the ecstatic depths like the toddler, we can re-establish a minimal measure. However, unlike the toddler, our path must carry the burden of awareness. And like Adam and Eve, we must seek a new path.
We are who we now are. It’s meant to be this way. Evolution is a bit chaotic (well actually a whole lot chaotic). But we could benefit from learning how to loosen the muscles that bind us; to breathe more fully again. And it would need be learned despite (and inclusive of) the cumbersome and inevitable weight of life. This would be a gift to ourselves; releasing the tension in our hearts and resuscitating creative and expansive thought.
Experience is to be respected. And the Wisdom gleaned from such has its place. However, as I see it, experience and its wisdom (maturity) are destined to serve our engaging ecstatically in the experience we call our life. To this end, the words of the prophet Isaiah come to mind; the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young … the calf and the lion will graze together, and a little child will lead them.