Summer before last, I was invited to my best friend’s family reunion. Since I hadn’t had a chance to see her for about 8 years, I jumped at the opportunity. We have known each other for over 20 years and have spoken on the phone at least weekly for 14 years. She is more like family than most of my family.
When I arrived at the rented cabin/lodge in the mountains of Tennessee, we claimed the porch swing and chatted happily for hours. At some point, her then 4 year old granddaughter came back from swimming and stayed on the porch with us. As a wanna-be grandma, I was thrilled with this vibrant, curious and cuddly soul.
As she bounced around and over us, suddenly she stopped, quieted and turned to me. With wide eyes she asked, “Why is your skin white?” I looked into those beautiful brown eyes and answered “For the same reason your skin is brown, because I was born this way”. She thoughtfully accepted that answer and went back to her high energy playing.
The thought has frequently hit me that this must be what Jesus meant when he said to “become as little children*”. We are supposed to see with the eyes of wonder when confronted with differences, instead of seeing with the eyes of judgment, as we so often do. The ego will go to fear, judgment and criticism first, and our cultural conditioning often agrees. But if we could just see differences as neither good nor bad, but just different, we could ask the questions of a little child and not block the opportunity to learn from and embrace others. (*Matthew 18:3)
One of my most favorite movie lines is from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. During a scene at the camp in Sherwood Forrest, a little girl, also about 4 or 5, comes shyly up to Morgan Freeman’s character and asks “Why did God paint you?” In her mind, knowing only white people up until then, she must have thought that his darker skin must be an art project of God’s. The dark Moor responds, “Because Allah loves wondrous variety”. What a great answer to a great question!
I will be turning 63 soon and I would like to think that with all those years comes a modicum of wisdom. I know that I certainly know so much more than even 20 years ago. But there are times that I need to go to that 4 year old wisdom and become like a little child again. For too often my mind wants to go to fear and judgment in the face of diversity. And as the consciousness of the world matures, we must keep that child-like wonder so that everyone is accepted for the beautiful creation of a God that loves infinite variety.
How boring the world would be if we all looked and acted the same. There would be no room for curious questions from children. I for one am glad that there are children to teach me to be open and accepting of differences!
– Rev. Grace Gifford
Rev. Grace Gifford is a 30 year student of Truth. She graduated from ministerial studies with Religious Science International (RSI) in 2001, serving as Staff Minister at the Center for Conscious Living (now The Center for Spiritual Living) in Huntsville, AL through 2007. Gifford was ordained in Oct. 2007 by Transformational Ministries Inc., an Independent New Thought Ministry. She regularly speaks and offers classes at Unity Church On The Mountain in Huntsville. Some of her classes and workshops have included: “You Are a Powerful Creator”; “Are You Ready for Love?”; “Experiencing Prayer”; “Loving Your Body to Wholeness”; Extreme Self-Care” and “No More Excuses”. Gifford’s vision is to transform lives through Love and expanding spiritual awareness. She shares her ministry around the southeast, speaking and teaching the Truth of Oneness at various New Thought Churches.