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I'm a writer and library worker who wears many hats. I believe a good book and a good piece of chocolate are the keys to a happy life.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Blessed Are the Children: The Miracle and Beauty of Childhood

This past week I chose a sort of picture book for my quiet reading time on Sunday afternoon. I picked up Blessed Are the Children: The Miracle and Beauty of Childhood. This is a beautiful coffee table book that captures your heart from the cover image and holds you within the spirit of its message until the last page.

It was a beautifully peaceful way to spend the afternoon. This is, as long as I was able to tune out my own brood of sweeties who were trying very hard to prove that they are in fact not sweeties. Sigh. Life is often very different from what we find in a book, isn’t it? I guess that’s why this particular book is important to me. It’s a gentle reminder that some moments, thoughts, and goals matter; others simply don’t matter as much as my very human mind would like to fixate on them.

The tone for Blessed Are the Children is set with the very first page. It quotes Gordon B. Hinckley as follows:

“Never forget that these little ones are the sons and daughters of God and that yours is a custodial relationship to them, that He was a parent before you were parents and that He has not relinquished His parental rights or interest in these little ones. Now, love them, take care of them. . . . welcome them into your homes and nurture and love them with all of your hearts.”

The illustrations are beautiful. The collection includes contributions by Simon Dewey, Greg Olsen, Robert Duncan, and Jean Monti, to name a few.

Each page contains poignant quotes from general authorities, presidents, poets, and philosophers—many of the greatest names of our time. They are quick, beautiful, and inspirational reads for any time you can steal a few moments. The quotes are given in a progressive or thematic order, but you can simply open up the book and wait for an image to capture your attention, then pause to read the thoughts on the same pages.

To give you a taste for the thoughts in store as you study and contemplate Blessed Are the Children, here are two more of my favorite quotes from its pages.

“When God wants a great work done in the world or a great wrong righted, he goes about it in a very unusual way.

He doesn’t stir up his earthquakes or send forth his thunderbolts. Instead, he has a helpless baby born, perhaps in a simple home of some obscure mother. And then God puts the idea into the mother’s heart, and she puts it into the baby’s mind. And then God waits. The greatest forces in the world are not the earthquakes and the thunderbolts.

The greatest forces in the world are babies.” E. T. Sullivan

“Grown men can learn from very little children, for the hearts of little children are pure. Therefore, the Great Spirit may show to them many things which older people miss.” Black Elk

This is a book that belongs on the shelf of every mother and grandmother. It’s a sweet reminder of the goodness and purity of children especially on the days when they’ve vexed us beyond sanity. I’d suggest it as a gift for your next baby shower. That and the package of baby diapers just might save a young mother’s heart and sanity on a day when she’d rather just toss up her hands in frustration.

Thank you Blessed Are the Children for the gentle encouragement and inspiration. We can all use a few more reminders that children are the most precious gift we are given in this life. Think how boring things would be without them!

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