Father’s Day is around the corner. If you’ve been reading for awhile, you already know my Dad. If you’re new to “My Inner Edge” just click Dad on Categories.
Dad saved the important things. Scrapbooks from High School. Papers from college. Letters he received while in the Navy. Poems he wrote. Index cards with notes for talks he gave.
In 1952, he must have had an opportunity to speak to the congregation at the Methodist Church in Greensboro, North Carolina…these are his notes, recorded on 3 x 5 cards.
THE CHILD IS FATHER OF THE MAN
Scripture: Matt. 18: 1 – 3 & Luke 18: 15 – 17
I’d like to say that I’m happy to be with you tonight. Although I’ve been attending church services all my life, this is one of the few opportunities I’ve had to speak above a whisper.
I’m sure you all noted that tonight’s scripture centered on children. Though none of us consider ourselves children any longer, we heard that perhaps we should.
Several years ago while reading one of William Wordsworth’s poems, I read a very puzzling phrase. Tonight I’d like to share with you that poem, that phrase and the thought which has recurred so often to me.
The poem went something like this:
“My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky
So was it when my life began,
so is it now I am a man;
so be it when I shall grow old
or let me die!
The child is the father of the man
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.”
A simple expression of just one of nature’s wonders, isn’t it? And yet, what does he mean by “the child is the father of the man?”
One Sunday I heard the scripture read that you heard tonight and had a feeling that part of the answer was “Whosoever shall not receive the Kingdom of god as a little child shall in no way enter therein.”
Do you remember when you were a little child? How you wondered if there was a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? Did you ever enjoy or anticipate the changing of seasons–looking for the early blossoms of Spring and the multi-colored leaves of the Fall? Or did you ever delight in an outdoor camping trip?
All of us, I’m sure, have enjoyed these and many other wonders of nature during our youth. We never questioned why they were or who was responsible. Perhaps a Sunday School teacher may have mentioned that God was responsible for all of nature.
Well, actually, we were probably much closer to God in those days than many of us are today. As life unrolls and the years slip by we face the many problems of day-to-day living. The sorrows, worries and troubles mellow that exuberant spirit and even dampen it quite completely.
We lose sight of those more simple joys of nature and living we once knew. We feel experienced and think we know a great deal–about our jobs, about our school lessons, about the people we work and play with.
When this happens then we must pause a moment and look around us for these simple everyday blessings of natural beauty–just as Wordsworth did. We must learn, too, as he did when he wrote his lines above Tinturn Abbey. He said:
“For I have learned to look on Nature not as in the hour of thoughtless youth, but hearing oftentimes the still, sad music of humanity nor harsh nor grating though of ample power to chasten and subdue:
And I have felt a presence that disturbs me with the joy of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime of something far more deeply interfused whose dwelling is the light of setting suns, and the round ocean, and the living air and the blue sky, and in the mind of man: Emotion and a spirit that move all thinking things, all objects of all thought and rolls through all things.”
If we can do this–if we can know within our hearts that there is a power far more deeply involved in all of life then we will become as children again. We will know that there is an influence far greater than we. We will know that there is much of this great power we don’t know, and we know that there is much of life left for us to learn.
There lies the answer to the child is the father of the man. Only feeling the humility of a child in the presence of the Greatest of all teachers can we enter the Kingdom of Heaven.