Excerpts from "Love Without a Name"

29 January 1999
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Mauldin made available these excerpts from his essay, "Love Without a Name" to the parents and audience at the final Albuquerque Boy Choir concert under his leadership as Musical Director in 1999. He directed the intermediate choir for three more years to help with the transtition.



There is nothing more beautiful than childhood reverence.  Though it may seem to be grounded in weakness and dependency, a child's reverence comes from a position of strength.  He may be small, weak and inexperienced by comparison to the adults around him, but he "knows" something--something that they may have forgotten, since they may not have been able to explain it themselves, and since they didn't seem to need to understand it in order to reach adulthood, or so it seemed.

What the child "knows"--sometimes without knowing that he knows it--is that good and evil, light and dark, order and chaos must all flow through our existence.  Though we revere and cherish the "good", and avoid and condemn the "evil", our definitions of good and bad, and even our codes of conduct, are not central.  What is central is the unique way in which we humans balance our uses of power--the power to affect our environment--in such a way as to respect the needs of others.

Knowing that each generation must find its own way, we nonetheless long to communicate to children that they are inherently beautiful and powerful.  We want them to "know that they know", so that they can keep their spirits alive as adults.  If, at the height of their own powers, they also nurture children--loving them as fully-human beings, not untouchable symbols of purity and innocence--then maybe our society will evolve away from hurtful intergenerational relationships.

We mentors not only want them to "know that they know", we need to.  It is in our genes, and we, like the parents that we also may be, have a necessary place in the scheme of things.  That longing--to communicate the need to cherish and share inherent beauty and power--is something that children can detect in adults, or even in other children or young people.  It is as if that inexplicable spiritual depth of theirs comes with a built-in sensor, telling them who will nurture their spirit and who will hurt it.

My own experience with boys--my sons, my piano students, members of the boy choir--has always been a labor of much well-directed love.  The boys seemed relieved to find that it was acceptable--even admirable--to share their feelings--through performance for an audience, or just by talking with an adult who enjoyed them as boys--not "little men".  The sparkle in the eye, the long hug, the sharing of themselves with the audience, with me and with each other--has made my heart "too big for my body."

The delight that children and adults find in each other is not perverse, abusive, nor a threat to civilization--but rather a source of its renewal.  Our purpose in life is not just to perpetuate our species and our beliefs.  It is also to try to make the journey a bit less lonely for those who follow us, and to refresh our souls (and theirs) with shared power.

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© 1999 M Mauldin