“To create ties.”
This, according to the fox in the French novella, The Little Prince, is the meaning of the word tamed. When consulting my dictionary app, I found no definition that quite matched the fox’s, but for the purposes of this reflection, it’s the one I’m going to use. The Little Prince is by French author Antoine De Saint-Exupéry and has become, since its original publication in 1943, one of the best-selling and most translated books ever. I never read this story as a kid, but now that I find myself a grown-up, it reminds me I was once a child, if only I would remember it.
Because the neat thing about children, observes the little prince, is “only the children know what they’re looking for. They spend their time on a rag doll and it becomes very important, and if it’s taken away from them, they cry” (65). And my guess would be only to get it back soon thereafter.
Children don’t have that same skepticism about the world that most grown-ups have, and unlike grown-ups, they seem to be more inclined to believe it when Jesus assures us that all who labor and are burdened may come to Him and find rest (Mt 11:28). I suppose children are less jaded, less afraid of creating ties, perhaps less aware that “you risk tears if you let yourself be tamed” (73).
But that is part of the great adventure of being tamed. And it is only with the creating of these ties one can truly see. For as our wise fox says, one sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes” (63). As the Lord says to the prophet Samuel: “Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature, because I have rejected him. God does not see as a mortal, who sees the appearance. The Lord looks into the heart” (1 Sam 16:7).
What a fulfilling experience to have someone look into our hearts. The fox begs for this from the little prince.
“But if you tame me, my life will be filled with sunshine. I’ll know the sound of footsteps that will be different from all the rest. Other footsteps send me back underground. Yours will call me out of my burrow like music. And then, look! You see the wheat field over there? I don’t eat bread. For me wheat is of no use whatever. Wheat fields say nothing to me. Which is sad. But you have hair the color of gold. So it will be wonderful once you’ve tamed me! The wheat which is golden, will remind me of you. And I’ll love the sound of the wind in the wheat…” (60).
Infinity is found in allowing ourselves to be tamed! It brings to life everything around us. It calls us out of ourselves like music. It makes what once said nothing now move us to tears. It gives direction to our restless hearts. It gives us a mission to which we make haste. And this mission is first, to allow ourselves to be tamed by the Trinity, to be brought into the divine life where nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God (Rom 8:38-39).
Then, as we learn of this covenantal love from God, we gain the courage to create ties ourselves, even at the risk of tears. We learn that through letting ourselves be tamed by the one, we find our mission, our vocation. We are no longer bothered, as the little prince was, by the thousands of other roses that look just the same as his own. Because we come to realize, as the little prince does, that “my rose, all on her own, is more important than all of you together… since she’s my rose” (63). She is the one he has watered, the one he has sheltered, the one he has listened to. He has gotten to know those essential things which are invisible to the eyes, and that makes her the one.
Let us be not afraid to pour ourselves into the one, to be tamed by one man or one woman, for this seems to me the best path to the infinity we seek.
De Saint-Exupery, Antoine. The Little Prince. HarperCollins Publishers, 2000.