I also know that there is a simplicity in all of this that we should not envy because it's close to laziness or ego-centrality; but I think that there is also something right in it that we ought to value. As I see them enter casually into the cafÃÂ© with all the confidence of someone who is holding mum's hand or on dad's shoulders; there is a certain goodness about that. There is something in their secure experience of the adult world through the small window of a child's eyes. It's passivity. I don't mean in the sense that they have things done for them and don't exert themselves, but in the way that they are caught up in the energy of their parents' lives. And there is a certain amount of beauty in that. But it's not just something that is limited to kids and their parents; you can see this kind of passivity in all relationships.
I considered the friendships I keep and the relationships in my life. I thought about how the people who I like to spend time with are not just the people with similar interests or adequate social credibility; but they are people whose lives have a form and force of their own. My close friends are ones with whom I can be neutral and at rest. I have friends whom I spend time with and it feels like I've been put in charge of entertainment; they are seemingly one-way streets. I find those situations and relationships difficult because I give of myself socially without receiving; I am like the 'parent' in that scenario.
Actual parents give a lot to their kids. They give sleepless nights, they give money that they will never get back, they give their patience and energy and love. I know that these things are essential in many ways (an infant cannot cook or clean or pay rent for themselves) but at its most basic level, it's not just essential, it's a wonderful thing. It's a picture of safety; where someone is so completely catered for, that they are free to live their life in that security. This passivity does not override who the child is and it does not encourage them to be tactless or languid, but from the safe haven of that relationship they live and move and have their being.
This is the nature of my closest relationships. They are characterized by activity and passivity; sharing life and resting in the assurance of mutual give and take. The manifestation of this in parent-child relationships is just an obvious and perhaps more extreme example; I think it's called 'love'.
It struck me that this is what God offers the world; to be loved and secure and caught up in the energy of His reality. The good news of Christianity is the safety and happiness of a child, written in technicolour across the universe. His love does not steal our identity or elicit apathy from us, but His love gives us force and form. In Him we live and move and have our being, in beautiful passivity, in perfect freedom.
Sam Manchester is a University of Sydney graduate interested in Sociology and Ethnography. He spent a couple of years living and studying in London, but now is home on the North Shore enjoying Sydney's arts and social scene and working in a 'three cup' cafe.