A Vision of Childhood

Thought for the Month.

<<Tidings, June 2019>>

Do you remember the toys of your childhood? Later this month, in the exhibition at Holy Trinity Church in Loddon, we’ll have a chance to look back in time at the toys that made some of our young lives happy. I recall many of my own toys, most with complete clarity, and some (still) with lingering regret – like the ones that had to be left behind when my family moved back to Norfolk from Canada.

Toys have been found from the earliest times and they exist in every society: they are an essential part of childhood. As a teacher I was fascinated to see the way that generations of children would use whatever they could find as the basis for play. On one memorable occasion a major tussle broke out over the prize in a pass the parcel. That’s not so unusual, you might say – except that the ‘prize’ was a small clump of grass and the ‘sweets’ in the layers of scrap paper were stones. In the minds of those involved, the imagined prize was just as real as any bought gift.

The imagination of children is a precious commodity, part of the innocence and vulnerability of the child, something that we need to value and protect. It is part of our mental development, enabling us to see the world in different ways, and sometimes to see from the point of view of another person. It is part of our spiritual development, helping us to see beyond the everyday, to envisage other times and dimensions.

To its enduring shame, the Church has not always protected the innocence and vulnerability of childhood. This is something that all of us who profess to be Christians have to look at squarely, acknowledging what has happened in the past and continuing to be vigilant to ensure it cannot happen again. Jesus valued children’s faith highly and used their innocence as an example of what our own should be. “Let the children come to me, and don’t try to stop them! People who are like these children belong to God’s kingdom.”

When you visit the exhibition at Trinity Church in Loddon, perhaps, you’ll recapture some of the innocence and wonder of your childhood years. As William Blake put it

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower.
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.

Belinda Barwick