I want to speak today about the wisdom of the child – the beauty of innocence – the freshness of new life; a life that brings light unto the darkness too often found in the world.
If I was to encourage you all to read a book this Christmas Season and New Year, it would be a French children’s book, The Little Prince (orig. Le Petit Prince), written by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, an international best seller first published in 1943, and translated now into over 300 languages and dialects. It is a book about self-discovery and the getting of wisdom. It is a children’s book with a profound message for adults.
- Dr. Kania: The Blind Side (cf. Matthew 18: 1 – 6)
- Dr. Kania: Joys and Sufferings
- A Question of Honour (cf. Isaiah 53)
In one passage of this book, the central character, the Little Prince, while on his journey, meets up with a wise Fox, who teaches the Prince about the importance of friendship being based on the time that you are willing to spend on something and someone. The Fox explains to the Little Prince about the importance of ‘taming’:
“My life is very monotonous,” the fox said. “I hunt chickens; men hunt me. All the chickens are just alike, and all the men are just alike. And, in consequence, I am a little bored. But if you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others. Other steps send me hurrying back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my burrow. And then look: you see the grain-fields down yonder? I do not eat bread. Wheat is of no use to me. The wheat fields have nothing to say to me. And that is sad. But you have hair that is the color of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat…”
“Please–tame me!” he said. “
I want to, very much,” the little prince replied. “But I have not much time. I have friends to discover, and a great many things to understand.”
“One only understands the things that one tames,” said the fox. “Men have no more time to understand anything. They buy things all ready made at the shops. But there is no shop anywhere where one can buy friendship, and so men have no friends any more. If you want a friend, tame me . . .”
“What must I do, to tame you?” asked the little prince.
“You must be very patient,” replied the fox. “First you will sit down at a little distance from me–like that–in the grass. I shall look at you out of the corner of my eye, and you will say nothing. Words are the source of misunderstandings. But you will sit a little closer to me, every day . . .”
The Little Prince, tames the fox, they become friends – and then their hearts break when the time comes for the two to separate. The Fox shares some wisdom with the Prince: “It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.”
As we come to the end of our Academic Year, if you are like me, I know that you are all tired. But I wish you to think about the time that has passed, and to reflect. I believe, that by necessity we spend so much of our lives racing around busy, when the most important aspects of our lives, are passing serenely – backstage. We fail to see the presence of the Fox, as we our spending our time being busy. Quite often we are busy with ‘busyness’.
Holidays such as the one that is now upon us, give us time to take stock. Hopefully for recreation – and by that I mean not only time to relax, but to do what the word actually means – to ‘re-create’. To think about ourselves and to forge our lives anew. To stop and to be.
A number of days ago, I went away to write this Address, and because there was no Chapel to go to, due to its closure, I tried to find a place where I could gather my thoughts alone. The place I found was outside the Br. Paull Centre looking out toward the Rugby Field. I stood there, and thought back to the year. What were the high points?. Oddly enough they were not about events, they were not about achievements – but they were about people, conversations. Names and faces flashed in front of me – it was the kindnesses, the help, the tears, the frustrations, the concerns of you all, that I recollected. It was the time that I spent with staff and students that meant the most.
Then a few days ago my wife Kathy handed me a school assignment that my youngest child Alexandra had written at school – Kathy quizzed me whether I had seen what Ally had written. As I took up the paper I assumed that I would read a children’s piece about Christmas. I put the book down that I was reading to break my thoughts of things profound to turn to things childish. And then God taught me a lesson – similar to the lesson that the Fox taught the Little Prince. I give to you what my seven year old had written, the original spelling intact:
“If I had 5 wishes to change the world they would be
- No war – war is bad. Although we do need people to fight, just once for my dad to meet his grandfather because he didn’t get to see him he died in the 1st world war, and I wish for all the people out there who had parents out there who are in the war saving our country just once for people their parents and grandparents are fighting in the war just for one day can they have peace and harmony with their family. [My grandfather actually died after World War II]
- Forr the homeless people that live on the streets to be adopted, cared for, loved for, electricity, warm, clothed, water and food so that they don’t starve and thirst I think this is good for the world because people need to eat and drink always they’ll die luckily we had people make food packs so that they wouldn’t starve and thirst.
- I wish that my grandmother [my wife’s mother] can see her mum again cause when she was 5 her mother died and I want her mum to come back just once and spend time with her I think this is good because everybody deserves to spend time with there mum.
- I wish that people would stop cutting down trees cause a lot of animals are losing there [homes] because of it including reptiles, mammals and birds.
- Sick people – I wish people wouldn’t get really bad vireses and get better I think this is important because people might die because of these diesies.
Love from Alexandra maria kania
Christmas teaches us that Wisdom is often childish, that it is pure, that it requires time to think and to ponder, that one needs or must make time to think of the ‘real’, that God is a God of surprises, who did not come with an army, but naked as a babe, in a backwater of the Roman Empire – and that if we are too busy for the simple, we will become confused in a labyrinth of complexity that we may lose ourselves in.
This Christmas, go home and record yourself in the census of where your roots are. Return to the beginning – take time, with those who know you best, do good works – and be joyful that we have a God who loved us so much, that he chose to be one with Us, to share our human condition – who wishes to walk alongside us, in our pains, our joys and sufferings of each day – in the spectacular but most often in the mundane.
There is oftentimes something frightening and confusing about complexity, and then again something pure, truthful, and refreshing in simplicity. The simple Truth came to save the world, in a simple form – as a human being, born as a baby – speaking a profoundly simple message, to save the world, to bring clarity to clouded minds, by bringing light into it.
For as St. John the Evangelist has taught us:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1: 1 – 5, NRSV)
May the child born in Bethlehem, be born in your homes and hearts this Christmas.
Dr. Andrew Thomas Kania
This article was published in The Church and Life Newspaper, January 2019
This post is also available in: English