Sometimes children see things so much more clearly than adults. The other day I was reading about a child in the ghetto who summed up his view of the world by saying, “God don’t make no junk.” Here was a little boy who lived in poverty, who had few worldly possessions and none of any value, and who lived amongst a forest of ugly, run-down concrete apartment buildings. And yet this child was able to look right past the depressing circumstances of his physical surroundings to the wonder and beauty of the Lord’s creation. The world made perfect sense to him. He understood (in a way that many adults don’t) that it was out of the question that God would be responsible for the misery and suffering around him.
This little boy’s story reminds me of another true story, a story about an orphan girl named Anna who grew up in the East End of London during the early 1940s. Where this remarkable little girl came from has remained a mystery and her tragic death at the age of seven was as strange and sudden as her appearance by the docks of London three years earlier. Her story was made public some 35 years later in the book, Mister God, this is Anna. “Enchanting,” “haunting,” “heart-rending” are the words that describe this book. Anna, like the boy in the ghetto, understood with uncanny certainty the purpose of life and God’s role in it. She had deep clarity about spiritual things, saying things like, “The difference between a person and an angel is easy. Most of an angel is in the inside and most of a person is on the outside.” The publisher of the book, William Collins (of Harper & Collins) said he had never handled such an amazing story in his 50 years of publishing.
We can have all the comforts of the world and still be unhappy. The point here is not about poverty and wealth. It’s about how we choose to deal with our lot. It’s about deciding whether or not we’re going to look past that which normally drags us down. And sometimes we find our inspiration in the most unlikely of places, from the “mouths of babes.” Like children, we can create our own “weather system.” We can get up on a cold, damp, cloudy day, carry out our duties and responsibilities cheerfully instead of begrudgingly, and not only surprise ourselves but break a pattern!
Ultimately, the way we conduct ourselves in this world rests upon our understanding of the Lord and His purposes for us. The more this vision becomes clear and child-like, the more we will “trust in the Divine [and] remain even-tempered whether or not we realize our desires… and we will recognize that the Divine providence is within the tiniest details” (Arcana Coelestia 8478).