Regarding my recent post (Jan 6) about modernity, wisdom, and innocence, some further reflection. We have two small statues of fairies along the pathway to our front door, hidden slightly, in the bushes lining the pathway. I once told our oldest grandchild that at night, the two statutes come alive and fly around our house keeping watch. The grandchild, who is almost four, paused when hearing this and stared at the statues. Then he looked at me to see if I were joking. I gave no indication either way, but simply stared at the fairies. Finally, our eyes meeting, we smiled at each other and went on our way.
In that moment, between hearing these fairy statues came alive at night and the searching of my eyes and face for a clue as to whether this could be true or not, there is what we might call the “perhaps” moment. There was some ambiguity. The moment hung in the air. We left the matter open-ended and to our imaginations. There was an innocence there between the two of us, as both of us, for very different reasons I’m sure, hoped that the world was indeed enchanted, one where fairies do come to life at night. I wanted it to be true because I’ve seen too much (the far end of experience—but still far to go). I imagine my grandchild wanted it to be true (or already knew it to be true), because his eyes have seen too little. This was a return for me, but the child’s natural state. We met there, however briefly, in that moment. Both realities, having seen too much and having seen hardly anything, can lead one to believe, or at least hope, the world to be enchanted.
We often associate innocence with being childish or simple-minded, but they are not the same. The far end of experience, with its blood, sweat, tears, joy, laughter, successes and failures can lead one to a purity of vision, of a return to simple love and non-judgment—of forgiveness. Such a return or recovery is not a return to being child-like, or childish, it is a return gained from eyes that have seen too much, but decided to allow the visions of what they have seen to temper, to soften, to grind down hard edges, and enlarge one’s heart.
Thus, the wise, those who have allowed the cuts and bruises of life, along with the joys and laughter, to enlarge their hearts, return to the innocence of hearts able to bear the weight of love and forgiveness—the weight of both receiving and extending such. And only such hearts and eyes can begin to see the world as enchanted again; or, rather, to see what has been there all along.