As the mother of four children, I often have the privilege of overhearing conversations among them. These discussions range from funny to serious, gross to factual. Sometimes, they go something like they did this morning...
Bella (age 4): "They put Jesus on the cross & he died."
Sophie (age 6): "Yeah, they put nails through his hands right here [points to her palms] & through his feet [demonstrates how Jesus' feet look on the crucifix]."
Bella: "But that's so sad."
This conversation went on for a few more minutes, all the while, my heart swelled knowing that the girls are absorbing all the Bible stories we share with them. The crucifix is an ever-present & constant reminder of the most important of these stories. But, what struck me more than the accuracy with which Sophie & Bella shared details of the crucifixion was the way in which Bella reacted to the various elements of the story. At four years of age, the story of the crucifixion is still "new" & her reactions are genuine. And this had me thinking, "As adults, have we become numb to the true emotions that the crucifixion story should evoke?"
St. Therese of Lisieux is a much-revered & loved saint in our house. We have a special devotion to her & her influence can be felt in various elements of our lives. Her name is the one I chose at confirmation & is shared by our oldest daughter (Sophia Therese). One of her main teachings was that of "The Little Way." That is to say that we can follow God through our littleness, in becoming childlike in the eyes of God & being obedient to Him. It is a mantra that I try to live by as much as possible.
I believe that this childlike nature should not only be in how we perform our duties, but also in how we see the stories of the Bible. In listening to Bella's response to the pain that Jesus felt, it makes me pause to take a closer look at how I think about the stories of Jesus' pain & suffering. We are inundated with images of pain, suffering & death on television, movies, video games, magazines, etc. Coupling that with the many countless times we hear the story & I think it's fair to say that we become desensitized to the actual events that happened on Golgotha. But seeing the story heard & felt through the eyes of my children has shown me a new way of thinking about & reflecting on these events. The next time I look at a crucifix or recite the Sorrowful Mysteries, I hope my emotional connection to the story will grow as I begin to feel it the way my children do, seeing it through the Little Way.