Did you know “baby worship” is an actual technical term? It is an overwhelming sense of being drawn to protecting and cooing over individuals under 3 (or in some cases, forever). As a proud Godmother of two, I have to say it doesn’t seem to fit an age limit. I am always enthralled by every word my godsons tell me, every move they make as they discover and take ownership of the world surrounding them. As Chesterton says in his book the Defendant, they are wonderful human mushrooms of wonder and seriousness:
“As we walk the streets and see below us those delightful bulbous heads, three times too big for the body, which mark these human mushrooms, we ought always primarily to remember that within every one of these heads there is a new universe, as new as it was on the seventh day of creation. In each of those orbs there is a new system of stars, new grass, new cities, and a new sea.”
Why does it matter? Why should we aspire to be child-like? Precisely because the child is the most capable of recognizing God. I’ve had students (little 4 year olds) run to the altar and tabernacle and tell me “Jesus was there, He is waiting for us!” and automatically kneel in front of the altar. They know to pray to Jesus and understand He is a dear friend who we reach in prayer and song in Church. In fact, they’d tell you most clearly that Mommy made pizza, but God made the world. It’s the most obvious thing to them, that God is our Creator. Being child-like helps us connect with gratitude and simple joy at the creations of God.
I’m often saddened when people shush their children in church without reason, so they are silent out of fear rather than reverence. I really believe children can understand and marvel at the Holy Mass rather than be told to be quiet without explanation. “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” Mark 10:13-16 (NRSV)
Child-like wonder is what I always aspire towards. I remind myself to learn from the little ones in my life. I’ve never looked at a lamp again in my adulthood with as much wonder as my godsons will, or marvel at the falling snow with as much awe. Or play peek-a-boo with as much delight and surprise, each time! Chesterton said: “We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders.”
I am glad there will always be babies to remind us to regard the world with wonder. The world that was created by a most loving and merciful God who desires us to seek Him with awe and wonder.