04/10/2015 06:34 pm ET Updated Jun 10, 2015

What Do Little Children Know That You Don't?

Robert Daly via Getty Images

"Except ye become as little children, except you can wake on your fiftieth birthday with the same forward-looking excitement and interest in life that you enjoyed when you were five, "ye cannot enter the kingdom of God." One must not only die daily, but every day we must be born again." ~ Dorothy L. Sayers

Recently, I flew to Las Vegas to conduct a seminar. As the airplane approached its final destination, the pilot announced apologetically that there would be a slight delay before setting down because high desert winds had forced the airport to close all but one runway. He said that we would be circling the city for a few minutes waiting our turn to land and that we should remain in our seats with our seat belts securely fastened because there may be a few bumps. Well, that few minutes turned into about 45 minutes, including a ride that would make the roller-coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain pale by comparison. The movement was so violent and intense that several passengers actually tossed their cookies, which is a really pleasant way of saying that they fully utilized their personal airsickness bags. As you might guess, that's not generally a good thing to have happen in close quarters because it only served to intensify the discomfort of the situation...and stimulate a few others to be equally expressive of their displeasure with the thrill ride.

About 20 minutes into the adventure, the entire airplane became very quiet. There was a sense of anxiety and fear that was now palpable while every passenger simply held on for dear life...except one. A toddler being held in his mother's arms was having a ball! With each dip and bounce of the airplane, he would let out a loud giggle of delight, throw his arms up in the air, and at the top of his lungs yell "Wheeeeeee." Clearly, this was something the adults sitting around him didn't appreciate or participate in because they were definitely not having fun. As I observed this phenomenon, I thought to myself, What is it that he knows and we adults don't? Then I got it: It wasn't what he knew, it was what he didn't know. He didn't know he was supposed to be afraid and concerned for his safety. He didn't know that the odor and stench in the plane was foul. Those were the labels we adults had stuck onto the experience. Suffice it to say, while everyone's body was on the airplane most of their minds were already way out in front of them..."safely" on the ground. This little guy was fully present and accounted for, in the moment, enjoying the ride. This really hooked my attention.

At that moment, I remembered the passage in the scriptures, "Except ye become as little children..." Wow, I thought, now I get it: The mind of this child only knows how to be in the Now. His mind is not wrapped around the past nor projected even five minutes into the future. He is enjoying the ride because he has not yet been taught to fear it. The awareness I received from this child was that the majority of our fears are learned. With that awareness, I took a deep breath and settled back into my seat, pretending I really was on a roller-coaster. I surrendered to the present moment and, with it, the need to control the situation. You could say I chose to let go and let God...and I smiled for the rest of the flight. As a matter of fact, I even managed to giggle once or twice, much to the chagrin of the guy sitting next to me holding the barf bag.

How about you? What awareness can you gain from the pure innocence of a child today? The Kingdom of God, which is that place within us where pure peace and unconditional love dwells, can never be entered through the adult mind. That mind is generally so dominated by fear and a need to control, it can't find its way to the door. This is why the great teacher admonished us to become as little children. Note that he didn't say be childish but rather childlike. Take a look at your life and see if maybe it's time for that child within to come out and play. When he or she does, you'll discover that heaven really is at hand . . . and you'll enjoy the ride of your life a whole lot more.

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*Portions of this writing were excerpted from Dennis' book,
The Art of Being - 101 Ways to Practice Purpose in Your Life

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