In a roundabout way this morning, I am led to reflect on Santa Claus. I tend to be one of those Bah! Humbug! types, resisting all mention of Christmas until December 24th when the season of Advent gives way to the joy of Incarnation. That trait is, of course, one instilled in me in childhood, a very long and lovely time ago, and is fueled by what seems the feverish need in our society to spend as much money as possible buying all the latest things that we cannot do without. This year, however, I am finding my resistance cracking as I sit many evenings with one of my housemates who loves the Hallmark Christmas movies – at least three or four of which are offered to us every day! (Thankfully there are 12 new ones this year and we have our fill at least by the second one…and not every night.) What’s happening as I watch is that I realize the pre-eminent role of children as the wisest of the movie’s characters as well as the focus on love and transformation that appears as a theme in each presentation. Often, a child will ask an adult if he or she believes in Santa Claus and the answer is never a gratuitous “YES!” but rather speaks of the spirit of love and generosity that symbolizes what Santa means. And by the end of the movie, all the adults come around to the truth.
When I read, therefore, from the prophet Isaiah that on that day, the wolf shall be the guest of the lamb and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, I think of those children for whom all things seem possible and no one need be an enemy. Isaiah continues: There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain, for the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord…with a little child to guide them.
The gospel carries on the theme as Luke 10 has Jesus praying, I give you praise, Father…Although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned, you have revealed them to the childlike. Traditionally I have seen translations of that last word as ‘little children’ or even “the merest children” but it makes more sense today as a quality that is possible for those of us who are already advanced in age.
So today I will give thanks for the children and the childlike ones in my life who have taught me to live life, not judging by appearance or hearsay (Is. 11) but looking to the heart for the deep meanings of things and finding there the spirit that is the best of this season and of every day of our lives.