A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what’s beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood.” Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder, 1965.
These are the Days of Awe in the Jewish year, and perhaps that is influencing the multiple ways that awe and children’s ability to touch it has been coming into my awareness these past days. Last Saturday, I played a game of peek-a-boo with a two year old amidst late fall flowers. Her face was like an ever opening flower.
Then a couple of days ago, my friend Emily send me an e-mail about how the world famous violinist Joshua Bell – who performs at concerts sold out at a $100 a seat – went to a subway station wearing a T-shirt and baseball cap to play. A video recorded his performance and people’s reactions to it. Some people tossed him coins. One man stopped to listen for a few moments, but ran off after glancing at his watch. A 3 year-old boy stopped in his tracks, but his mother urged him on. She finally had to drag him away. Other children who went by tried to stop and listen, but were pulled away by adults. Only the children seemed to sense that some thing special was being offered them. They were in touch with that sense of awe that Carson talks about.
Last night, another friend told me about taking her four year old daughter Maya to her new pre-school’s picnic. Maya loves her new school and has made a special friend that she keeps talking about. Driving into the parking lot, she saw her friend also being driven in by her parents. They both pressed their faces against the glass and then jumped out of the cars to greet each other, take hands, and run together to the playground. Their ability to let their unlimited delight in each other show is inspiring and something that gets tamped down in us as we grow. This no doubt comes from our disappointments in relationships and their imperfections.
But awe can be stirred up in us, and the Pages, the youngest members of the Tarot Court can point the way. Although we think of them as the most inexperienced or even developed of the Court Cards, their fresh eyes and ability to be in awe have an amazing power, especially needed in times of transition and change. (The images below are from the beautiful Gaian Tarot where creator Joanna Powell Colbert did reconceptualize the Pages as children and you can get a bigger view of them here.
The Page of Wands is in awe of, and gives attention to, the power of fire. This child invites you to embrace your creativity, enthusiasm, and self-growth. Drawing on the masculine energy of fire, this Page wants to see action and has the courage to try something new, shouting, “Go ahead and do something today to make your dreams real!”
The Page of Cups is in awe of, and gives attention to the power of water. This child invites you to embrace your emotions, bask in your imagination, and connect yourself deeply to others. This child invites you to go with the flow of your emotions and inner messages (perhaps intuitive or psychic) as well as to move toward where there is love in your life. Drawing on the feminine energy of water, this Page wants you to be receptive to what is and accept the responses that come from the heart and the unconscious.
The Page of Swords is in awe of, and gives attention to the power of air. This child invites you to embrace ideas, to explore them with your mind, and to fearlessly communicate your findings. This child invites you to learn, looking at all perspectives, and then synthesizing your findings to share with others. Drawing on the masculine energy of air, this Page wants to share discoveries with others and seeks to contribute to greater understanding and justice in the world.
The Page of Pentacles is in awe of, and gives attention to the power of earth. This child invites you to embrace the world around you and focus on what is in front of you. This child invites you to be in the present moment and trust that you will be provided for. Drawing on the feminine energy of earth, this Page is open to receive what is being offered and grateful for the small gifts of everyday life.
The other night I heard religious scholar Karen Armstrong on NPR’s Fresh Air. She was talking about how when religions were coming into being, people were using words like God to point beyond what could be named, and toward “the silent awe” of the Unnamable Mystery. Perhaps these children of the Tarot model for us how to move toward that Mystery. Perhaps they are the wisest people in the entire deck.