The most beautiful thing in the world

…is a child sleeping.  I am sometimes awed by just the feeling that rises up in me when beholding one of my daughters asleep; it is an intense experience of grace.

What makes that statement more than pious nonsense, I think, is the fact that the experience can come unbidden even a short time after the child has had a tantrum.  Parenthood can sometimes feel like consolations and desolations on steroids, rushing frenetically on top of one another within the space of several hours.  There is fun, there is disobedience; there are smiles, there are wails.  By the end of a day I crave a little silence.  I love to sit by the bedside as they go to sleep; sometimes I will do an Examen and sometimes I will read or write.  And yet every now and again–not every day, mind you, life flies on– I am knocked down by grace.  (Not a bad image to consider today,  on the feast of the conversion of Saint Paul.)

Aristotle described the good life as being characterized by megalopsuche, “great-souled”ness.  An encounter with grace reminds us that when we love, we really are doing nothing but allowing God to work through us, in us, expanding our souls so that God might use us for the sake of building his kingdom.  Beholding a child sleeping, being struck by beauty: that’s about as close as I can point to in my own life of megalopsuche.  Life for a moment seems so very beautiful, so very worth sharing, so very worth struggle.

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Tim Muldoon
Tim Muldoon is the author of a number of books, including The Ignatian Workout and Living Against the Grain, and teaches in the Department of Philosophy at Boston College.


  1. Looking and merely holding a child’s hands or toes makes you forget all your woes. It is like touching and staring at God it overwhelms a mother like me.

  2. The child is a beautiful and powerful image of the Kingdom, for me.
    I never tire looking at the face of a child, at the child that is alive in an adult. We need to tend the child in us, allowing it to interact with the
    adult and the parent in us. At mid-point in our life’s journey we need to access our child state to restore our energy some of which we are slowly
    losing. We will always need some creativity and playfulness to maintain some balance in our life.


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