Although all newborn babies look remarkably similar in a
wrinkled, reddish sort of way, each child is a unique and fascinatingly complex
individual. Each child possesses a physical, emotional and intellectual
inheritance from both its parents. Scientists can now trace back the patterns of
our genetic inheritance almost into the mists of time and are constantly
discovering different ways in which this inheritance impacts not only on our
physical characteristics but also on our personality and its growth. But not
only do we have a natural inheritance we also have a spiritual inheritance,
latent potentialities towards self-centredness, that can ultimately lead us to
live contrary to the wish of our loving Creator.
The physical birth and nurturing process in a newly born
child reflects and parallels the process of regeneration in a mature adult. Just
as the creation of an adult from a baby is a lengthy process so is the creation
of a spiritually reborn adult a lifelong process. We are all, like small
children, essentially self centred, and just as a young child has to become
aware that he/she is not the centre of the universe and that others have needs,
so we too need to be aware that spiritually speaking God should be at the centre
of our life and love and that humanity should take precedence over ourselves.
Our environment affects our physical and intellectual growth
in the natural world and adds its layers to our basic personality. Our parents,
our family, our friends, our religious upbringing, our education all contribute
to the making of the adult from the child. It may seem that some individuals may
have unfair advantages over others, but God always seeks to provide a person
with a basic store of loving experiences at some stage in the early years of
his/ her early natural life and provides unseen spiritual opportunities for an
individual to follow the right pathway. Emanuel Swedenborg refers to this
'store of loving experiences' using the term remains as in this quotation
from Arcana Caelestia:
Remains are all things of innocence, all those of
charity, all those of mercy, and all those of the truth of faith, which a
person has acquired from God and learned since early childhood. Every single
one of them lies stored away. And if a person did not acquire them, no
innocence, charity, or mercy could possibly be present in his thinking and
actions, and so no good and truth at all could be present.
A young child needs to know that he/she is loved and
cherished and in the same way we need to know that we too are loved
unconditionally by our Heavenly Father who seeks always what is best for us.
Just as a child needs to be fed, a human being also needs to be fed spiritually.
We are fed spiritually by the teachings given to us in the Word of God, by the
good examples that other people set us and by the myriad everyday experiences
that help to develop our attitudes and our characters. This spiritual learning
is vital for our inner development and growth.
As a child grows it acquires knowledge at an amazing rate.
The understanding of the knowledge that is acquired usually comes much later.
For example we may know that you divide two fractions by turning the second one
upside down and multiplying but a true understanding of the reasons why may not
come until much later. In the same way in our regeneration, as we read and learn
about God and his purposes, a fuller understanding and perhaps most importantly
an affection or love for that wisdom develops. This takes a lifetime to acquire,
not just in this world but to eternity.