Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Reclaiming Innocence

    Last Friday night I enjoyed the company of one of my best friends, Rosalie Jiang. Somehow, in between our reminiscing over college and discussing our quarter-life crises, we landed on the topic of innocence.
    And she said something very wise and beautiful, especially for this very visual learner, so I thought I'd share it for you to see.
    Innocence, it's often thought of as fresh-fallen snow. And snow shines most brightly in the sun, which, you know, is exactly what can melt it. Innocence shines most brightly in the face of what might destroy it.
    I think of people like Anne Frank, who somehow kept optimism about humanity even as she hid from the people trying to destroy her family.
    I think of children, who have to ask questions like "what is war?" and "what is death?"
    I think of Jesus, who was God and saw everything, yet still wept at death.
    I also think of Adam and Eve, who ate from the tree of knowledge. As someone who loves learning, I'm always bothered by why knowledge was forbidden.
    Except, it wasn't simply "The Tree of Knowledge." It was "The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil."
    And so, perhaps, the Garden involves the loss of innocence - the deep knowing of evil.
    Fine, okay. But what is innocence?
    Well, I don't have a concrete answer, but that's okay because I prefer the abstract.
    I do think innocence is often shortchanged; we view it as either naiveté or virginity. However, if innocence is a virtue, I don't think it can be ignorant like naiveté. Nor can it be the rigid sexual 'rule' of virginity - Adam and Eve were married and innocent.
    Innocence, maybe, is an elusive essence, found in the unblemished love of mother for child, in the hope of a bride, and in the kindness of a small child offering you flowers. Maybe innocence is found the belief that God can use goodness and beauty to save the world.
    Whatever it is, innocence is subversive. When violence seems the easiest action, when bitter retorts the best response, maybe we reclaim a bit of that shining innocence when we choose peace and love.
    Maybe we reclaim innocence when we see the reality of our abuse and say no. When we leave because this is not how it should be. Maybe innocence is seeing things as they should be.
    Maybe truth is not condemnation. Maybe the truth is innocent.
    Innocence shines most brightly in the face of what might destroy it.
    Maybe innocence is in the image of God. Maybe it's still hidden in us tired seeking souls.
    Maybe we'll all shine our brightest in the face of what can destroy us.


  1. Malick's Tree of Life is basically a meditation on these ideas... and that's why it's my favorite film.

  2. I'll have to watch it! I've wanted to for a bit, but I haven't made the time.