“I don’t think I see anything to-night,” says Wendy, with a feeling that if Nana were here she would object to further conversation.
“Yes, you do,” says Jane, “you see when you were a little girl.”
“That is a long time ago, sweetheart,” says Wendy. “Ah me, how time flies!”
“Does it fly,” asks the artful child, “the way you flew when you were a little girl?”
“The way I flew? Do you know, Jane, I sometimes wonder whether I ever did really fly.”
“Yes, you did.”
“The dear old days when I could fly!”
“Why can’t you fly now, mother?”
“Because I am grown up, dearest. When people grow up they forget the way.”
“Why do they forget the way?”
“Because they are no longer gay and innocent and heartless. It is only the gay and innocent and heartless who can fly.”
“What is gay and innocent and heartless? I do wish I were gay and innocent and heartless.

– The Adventures of Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie

When people grow up they forget the way. Barrie understood. Little children understand. Adults take on the seriousness of the world, and we forget how to fly. We get bogged down with the cares of the world, the responsibilities, the “roles” we are suppose to play that we lose the wonder, the innocence, the freedom, the joy, the simplicity, the trust, the spontaneity, and most importantly the humility of a little child. We grow old before we know it, and become set in our ways. We quickly get to the point where we find ourselves repeating those dreadful words, “But, we’ve never done it that way before!”

I was in church last Sunday morning singing along with the Praise Band, absentmindedly mouthing the words that were being flashed across the large screens in front of the auditorium, when I noticed the girl. She was a couple of rows in front of me and probably no more than 4 years old. While everyone else was just singing, she was standing in her chair dancing and swaying to the music. She was ENJOYING herself, and in church. I think Jesus understood the heart of a child better than anyone. That’s why he said, “I assure you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child–this one is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3 – 4)

Grace Moyer Frounfelker, in her book “A Little Child,” wrote about what it takes to become childlike. Some of her points:

  • Listen!
  • Observe!
  • Marvel at the humility of a little child, honestly accepting dependence on others.
  • Open our minds to the awe and wonder of God’s world.
  • Appreciate the child’s creativity, the compassion untouched by prejudice.
  • Learn to be childlike, spontaneous, drawing others into community.
  • Recognize the walls behind which we hide, and dare to take off masks of pretended maturity.

Bill Ayers, in 1973, wrote a song called “Like A Little Child.”

May you be like a little child
May you see the world all anew
May you start to believe again in wonder
May your heart be the heart that you once knew

That child is alive, deep inside you
He nearly disappeared, don’t let him slip away
He may just be asleep, deep inside you
So help him come alive, and maybe he will stay

I remember the days, I remember the places
How you laughed with your eyes, and you lived without fears
But time can betray, it can leave empty spaces
the child says “goodbye”, and then leaves without tears

Turn loose of that old grown up, and learn to fly again. Aw, to be 8 again.