The first song I heard by Raffi, the Canadian children’s folksinger, was “Biscuits in the Oven.” Tears gathered in my eyes as I danced with 1-year-old Marshall. I sensed this man was responding deeply to a calling to love, that can only come from God. The words were simple, but his voice and music fed my soul.
Recently, we found some of our old Raffi CDs we’d misplaced, and we play them daily. His are the only songs with lyrics that Marshall, my nine-year old Asperkid, will listen to. He, too, knows that Raffi is a mentor, a real presence in our lives calling us to goodness, truth and justice. When Marshall is upset, Raffi calms him.
When Raffi wrote a song called “In the Real World” on his CD “Love Bug,” Marshall said, “He can’t mean it.” But I explained that Raffi really does think the world of trees, flower, sky and sun is better than the online world. He got quiet.
I recently finished Raffi’s autobiography, written in 1998. I couldn’t help but search for a sign of a faith in Christ. One of his grandmothers was deeply evangelical and prayerful, though the pamphlet-giving type. As for Raffi, he wasn’t impressed with Christianity, nor the New Age or yogic philosophy he briefly explored. He was attracted to Taoism in college.
Now he talks about listening to The Creator in prayer and taking his life’s work as a calling. He strives for integrity. The value of caring for children comes first, over money.
It seems to me that Raffi has a sense of being a co-creator with God, and an understanding of the sacredness of children. He’s drawn on the feminine aspects of God intuitively, allowing the Spirit reign in his work and life. The idea for activism for children came to him in a vision. He clearly listens, stays open, to God. Can that happen without believing in Jesus? Yes, I think it happens all over the world every day.
It occurred to me that someone could start a WWRD movement, What Would Raffi Do? But he’d find that over-the-top. Nonetheless, I find great overlap in Raffi’s view of children and Jesus’s.
Raffi starts his autobiography, “Children are the most reasonable people I know.” Jesus said, “Unless you become like a little child, you will never enter the reign of God” (Matt. 18:3). I think Raffi was saying that the values of children right the world again, make adult reason seem paltry. And that they tell the truth when adults would prefer they didn’t. And this too was Jesus’ point. Children enter into the world of faith easily, and this, said Jesus, was the work of God (John 6:29).
Adults aren’t usually so good at taking cues from little humans who are supposed to show respect, more than be respected. But we’ve got a lot to learn. True, Raffi and Jesus are both childless men. But I think they give us tired, just-give-me-ten-minutes-alone-in-the-bathroom parents more objectivity.
In Jesus, we see both a Mother and a Father unlike any most of us have experienced. This divine parent welcomes children in the presence of adults–in a culture where children had little power. Then, in front of those same adults, praises the kids as examples of spiritual maturity (Matt. 19:13-15).
You never hear Jesus scolding a child. And, never a word to parents about discipline. No quoting of Proverbs about not sparing the rod. Just Jesus’ quiet insistence that children understand God and the way things should go, in ways his adult followers did not.
Raffi seems to get that. I have pasted his Covenant for Honouring Children below from his website. So when you get to a hard place in your life with kids–just ask, What Would Jesus and Raffi Do?