Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Fox and the Hound, or Faith Like a Child

Last Monday night I found myself in the basement at I-House with two little Burmese boys, watching a Disney favorite of mine: The Fox and the Hound. This classic animated film about a dog named Copper, a fox named Todd, and their journey from friendship to learning to be enemies was cause for a lot of deep thought and reflection.

For those who don't know the story, Copper and Todd met when they were just babies-innocent, and unharmed by the expectations of the animal kingdom in which they dwelt. They were carefree and happy to play together-why on earth, they wondered, was it so wrong for them to be friends? Copper's older companion, an experienced hunting dog named Chief, told him that he ought to think of Todd as the enemy. After all, dogs hunt foxes-it's simply the natural order of things for them. But that prey/preyed upon relationship had to be learned-the young ones couldn't see beyond their pleasant, playful friendship. They were different, but who cared? Not them, certainly.

So Copper and Todd were separated for some time, and during that time, Copper was taught the fun of hunting. When he finally saw Todd again, he was torn between his feelings of friendship for him and duty to his master as a hunting dog. Fortunately, for the sake of all children everywhere, Disney kept the story safe and Copper made the right decision to let Todd run free.

For some time now, I've been replaying a scene in my mind over and over, pondering and savoring a precious moment of a gift from God. It was a Tuesday afternoon at Women's Club, and I was downstairs helping with the babies. I had a little Asian girl in my lap, and in an attempt to pull her out of her shell I grabbed a little table that plays music and has lots of interactive gadgets that for whatever reason interest babies learning to stand. She was immediately enthralled, and began pushing buttons and spinning balls, fascinated by the sounds which her actions produced. Within seconds, an African boy was standing on his wobbly legs next to her; close at his heels was a Latino boy, and our one and only American girl. The four adorable babies played together, smiling and cooing at the ruckus they made, and in that moment it struck me how precious and beautiful it was: four completely different nationalities interacting peacefully. There were no barriers of language or culture or religion or personality for these children. Hate and fear of each other was as foreign from their minds as the idea of eating poison willingly is to mine. It was like a glimpse of heaven, so beautiful and poetic and moving.

And I now feel like I have a better idea of what it means to have faith like a child. In a child's world, there is no notice of differences, no fear without purpose, no social or political or religious boundaries hindering them. I want to be more like them. I want to learn how to be as a child again-both in faith and in interpersonal relationships.

 At that time the followers came to Jesus and asked, "Who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" Jesus called a little child to him and stood the child before his followers. Then he said, "I tell you the truth, you must change and become like little children. Otherwise, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. The greatest person in the kingdom of heaven is the one who makes himself humble like this child. -Matt. 18:1-5, NCV

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