The Kingdom’s Onion
Apr 11, 2022
You've heard something similar: To enter the Kingdom of Heaven you have to enter it as a child.
Have you ever wondered what that means? I think about this all the time and I’m convinced the answer is more layered than the world’s largest onion. And every time I think I’ve gained some insight, another layer gets pulled away by time, circumstance, season, or readiness. What I do know for sure is that there is a lot of wisdom wrapped up in the ways of a child.
For us, today, let’s look at a very superficial layer of wisdom. Children (0 to 3-ish years of age) are generally happy and content. In other words, most children are living in the kingdom…
Their eyes sparkle, they grin at ghosts, everything is new to them, and everything is wonderful. Their needs are few: feed me, change me, hold me, see me. And in a “perfect” world, their needs are generally met. The result? No worries, no concerns, no fears. That alone could usher in Heaven on Earth.
But there is something else children do, something else that keeps them in the kingdom. They fully experience their emotions, allowing them to pass completely through and out of their minds and bodies. Adults don’t do this. We stifle our emotions and/or, try to hide them. This often results in our emotions ruling over us, wreaking havoc on our minds and bodies.
When a child cries, they cry it out. When they are angry, they tense up, shake, maybe cry and let the anger pass through their muscles. When they laugh, they giggle infectiously and shake until they can’t breathe, Maybe their eyes feel laughter tears. Children let their emotions fully immerse and run through their bodies. This sets their minds free creating and then clinging to thoughts that revolve around the emotions.
Again, adults stifle tears, even laughter. We don’t allow our diaphragm to fully move us, shake us, with our crying or our laughing. We stuff the emotion, and thus the movement on the diaphragm, trapping the emotion in our muscles, in our subconscious, and in our thoughts. As a result, thoughts of negativity, thoughts of unexpressed emotions, spring up in our heads. Worry, resentment, judgment, fear, rage - tint our thoughts and they lead to more thoughts of sorrow, guilt, shame, and lack. And before you know it, we are so far away from the kingdom, we don’t even believe it is a real possibility.
But it is.
In fact, we were all there once, even if only for a day. We may not have all had childhoods wrapped in loving homes, but there was a time when we didn’t know words, rules, shoulds, and expectations. There was a time when we could all think without creating stories of tragedy in our heads. There was even a time when we weren’t afraid to stick beetles in our mouths.
We can go back.
It is possible to return to Heaven on Earth. It’s possible to imitate the ways of a child. Because of our neurology, it won’t be easy - we’ve habitually created the world we perceive to live in. But through practice, we can habitually work ourselves back into the kingdom we enjoyed as a child.
We can try to restore that twinkle our eyes were made to hold. We can smile at “strangers,” ghosts, beetles, and butterflies. We can learn to experience our emotions, so they can pass through us. We can practice knowing that our negative thoughts are just remnants of stuck emotions, old memories, and fears. We can also give what we need: love, encouragement, hugs, listening ears, seeing eyes, and even food and drink. If we give these freely, we will be bathed in their return.
This is the way back home.
Again, this is a very superficial layer of the Kingdom’s Onion. The point is, we were born into the kingdom. Somewhere along the way, we are the ones who kicked ourselves out. But there was a time, for most of us when joy and peace were all we knew because we didn’t know any better; we hadn’t been taught the ways of the world yet. But joy and peace haven’t left us. They are still here ready and waiting for us to know them again.
Practice these simple things every day:
- Breathe slow and deep
- Smile deliberately
- Seek wonder intentionally
- Look for beauty, like wonder, it’s all around you
- Know that you are not your thoughts and your thoughts are not you.
- Allow your emotions to fully pass through you, and experience them.
- Be kind to everyone you meet.
- In your highest highs and your lowest lows, even in the pits of hades, know that you are never alone, even if it feels like it.