Thanks for being born!
Here’s a little birthday present for you . . .
… click on the Birthday mousie for your birthday greeting …
… or on the Christmas mousie for Christmas greetings …
Natural Innocence, like absolute Love, is the very foundation of life. It can’t be destroyed, only clouded over in one’s awareness. There are those who would accuse Innocence of being a limiting state that should be grown out of. In fact, it is of the Essence, and a priceless asset to every living thing. It is the fragrance that makes life worth living. If its light is smothered in us, we lose the vitality, the spark of joy, that fills our life with meaning.
I’ve worked on city streets and seen old children, working in the sex trade, hanging on corners with shriveled skin and hollow eyes, like burnt tree trunks in a once lush forest. There are religious organizations that would have us live in states of guilt and darkness, or of egoistical pride and fiery aggression, and the world seems to be run now by ravenous corporations bent on monetary profit at any sacrifice. Most of the daily bad news that bombards us is the result of, directly or indirectly, the decline of Innocence. But Tagore wrote: “Every child born brings the message that God is not yet discouraged of men.” We’re (still) in luck.
Innocence lives in each of us, and supports us, emanating from our Mooladhara center and our heart. We love to hear a child laugh (if we’re not too stressed); to see a puppy play, or the sun rise on a landscape, and sometimes we miss that certain something that seemed to have died in us when we left childhood. It didn’t die, and it is easily unearthed. There’s a simple experience that can be reached effortlessly by any human being, that allows that essential light to shine powerfully inside of us. It’s not a pay-for formula or a trick of the mind. It’s something built-in and it’s waiting, like a present on your birthday. It’s time to open it.
One fine morning, down the street,
An elephant I chanced to meet:
“Good day,” I said, and trying to pass
Spoiled my shoes in the dewy grass.
(For he filled the sidewalk, where
He stood without a thought or care.)
“Excuse me sir, I’m late for work!”
I shouted up, a bit berserk.
“If I’m not there by half-passed eight
“I’ll loose my job for being late!”
(But he pretended not to hear
And simply smiled from ear to ear.)
“What’s wrong with elephants these days?!”
I cursed, my liver now ablaze.
“Don’t you watch the stock-exchange?!”
“Time is money! Life is change!”
(He waved his ears and gave a yawn
And nodded to the rising sun.)
“I’ve sweated all my life to be
“Important in the company!
“No elephant will make me stop
“My ardent race to reach the top!”
(With his trunk he picked a rose
And pushed it up against my nose.)
“Listen here you thoughtless brute,
“Perhaps you think you’re being cute,
“But you’d better face the fact:
“You’re holding evolution back!”
At this remark he seemed to grow
And over me, a shadow throw;
A shadow cool and comforting . . .
I wondered what was happening.
Just then I noticed in his eyes
A clear blue depth, like endless skies.
And did, or did I not there see
All life, all hope, all destiny?
Suddenly I seemed to wake
And gave myself a good, strong shake.
“What is . . . where am . . . how did . . .?” said I.
“Where is that god who made me cry?”
(Then wiping tears from both my eyes
I stepped back in great surprise.)
For there before me on the walk
A little child stood looking up.
With head just slightly to one side
He sweetly watched my melting pride.
(I felt embarrassed by his gaze
Which read me like the sun’s pure rays.)
With smile playing on his lips
He quickly turned, and off he skipped.
Was it my heart that, by his whim,
Ran that day along with him?
That was a long, long time ago.
And though today I’m gray and old
I feel that child within me still.
And gratefully, I always will.
– Edward E. Saugstad, Cambridge, summer of ’87