So, over the weekend I watched the Friends Reunion. For the record, I loved every minute of it. It was cheesy, and perhaps self-indulgent for the various stars and producers. But for me, it was awesome to reconnect with characters that I’ve loved for a very long time.
But, as I watched, I couldn’t help but be so aware of my age. I’m in the same age range as the six stars. I was also aware of the push to look young and be young. I was both shocked and not shocked at how much the men had aged. And at how obvious it was that the women still have to work really hard to hide their age.
THE CULT OF YOUTH
It’s a weird society we live in where we are constantly told to “grow up” and act or dress or look our age. Yet youth is idolised and ageing is frowned upon. And then we lay next to that a spirituality that tells us to be childlike. Is spirituality also part of the cult of youth?
No. Authentic spirituality is ageless. It doesn’t see youth or old age as ‘better’. They are both seasons that we all go through. They are both necessary, both deeply meaningful, and both important for our journey as individuals and as a society.
THE PARADOX OF CHILDLIKE MATURITY
But in the way of Christ, there is this wonderful paradox: to become spiritually mature we need to become more childlike. It’s not about denying age or trying not to look or grow old. It’s about not allowing ageing to make us bitter and rigid and resistant to change. It’s about drawing on all the wisdom of our years to embrace life and its goodness, beauty, and wonder more and more intensely and wholeheartedly.
And one of the most wonderful characteristics of children that we too easily lose as we grow older is their capacity to question! They question everything because they have so much to learn. They are curious about everything. They haven’t learned that some questions shouldn’t be asked. They haven’t learned that some topics are taboo. They haven’t yet been shaped to see only as they are told to see, to think only as they are taught to think and to be only what they are told they are allowed to be.
Children aren’t concerned about whether they look good or not. They are beginners at everything, so they don’t mind being beginners. They fall down, they make mistakes, they make messes, they say inappropriate things and ask weird questions. And in it all there is this insatiable curiosity and wonder and awe that fills their world.
BECOMING LIKE CHILDREN
And you know what? We don’t have to lose it. It doesn’t matter how old we are. It doesn’t matter that we learn to be more sensitive to those around us in how we ask our questions or express our amazement – that’s good, but it doesn’t have to shut us down. This universe is still so full of mystery that we need curiosity, we need questions, we need to be beginners over and over as we enter into experiences and worlds of knowledge that are new and different and surprising. And I believe that nurturing this childlike curiosity and this openness to be a lifelong beginner is an important and life-giving spiritual practice. It is essential to evolutionary spirituality and it is a key to consciously evolving into our most alive and vibrant selves.
So what new realms of experience and knowledge can you venture into this week? What new questions can you ask? What can you be more curious about? If you weren’t afraid of looking like a beginner, what would you try? What new skill would you learn? What new subject would you explore and learn about?
What would it mean for you to embrace the curious, questioning, wonder-filled child within you and let it lead you into an ever-deepening maturity of spirituality and living?
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