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Through the Eyes of Children

Yesterday was our children's Christmas Pageant. Afterwards I asked everyone how they felt after watching it and they responded: happy, proud, joyful, and thankful. I was so glad that no one said bored or annoyed, or that they were just glad it was over. You see, I’ve known people who, when they found out that the kid’s would be doing their Christmas Pageant, refused to come to church that Sunday unless they knew that I was preaching as well. Their behavior suggested that there is nothing personal we can receive from sharing in the children’s experience.

I find that pretty sad since children have so many gifts to offer us. One of the best things they offer, especially at this time of the year, is their sense of wonder and excitement.

Looking back at my own childhood, I can remember a few distinct Christmas memories that instilled in me a sense of wonder and awe. One was a candlelight Christmas service at Wauwatosa United Methoidist Church. In my mind I can still see that congregation awash in the soft glow of candles and singing together. And the other was going to Gimbels in downtown Milwaukee to see Santa and ride the monorail around the ceiling of the toy department. What do you remember?

Why do we lose that feeling? Do we think we have to act more grown up? And what is grown up? Being serious all the time? Are we embarrassed if we actually get excited about something?

I read an article about 9 reasons why you should view the world through a child’s eyes. These are my top three of the nine (at least for today):

1. Everything Is New

Kid have the wonderful ability to be excited by all things new. Even things that seem like chores when we grow up are thrilling to kids like vacuuming or mowing the lawn. Kids aren't jaded and cynical. They see each day as a clean slate rich with possibilities.Instead of Christmas being a chore and obligation, it is filled with fun and excitement. Maybe if we could look at tree decorating or present wrapping with the eyes of a child, we wouldn't feel so stressed by all of it.

 2. Your Imagination Is Limitless

Once upon a time I was called Practical Woman, which is not the worst thing in the world, but it doesn’t lend itself to imagination. As we age we get more logical, rational, reasonable, and yes, practical, but I think we miss out on a lot by not using our imagination.

What happened to the little girl that I was that had an imaginary elephant named Cindy who was pink with purple polka dotted, a whole family of imaginary alligators living under her bed and played Starskey and Hutch with a friend at recess? Seems like as we get older our imaginations, when we do let them loose, run wild with negative images of car accidents, or plane crashes, or people disliking us, or having dry turkey for Thanksgiving. 

But what is Christmas without an imagination? What happens to Santa Claus and elves and talking reindeer and miracles? Our imagination takes a pristine, Christmas card birth scene for Jesus and sheds a whole new light on it. Suddenly we can see the struggles of a a poor couple in a stable, with smells and the fear and the pain. With the use of our imaginations the whole thing gets a lot more real... and a lot messier!

3. You Don’t Care What Other People Think

This last one probably disappears the quickest, but I can remember when my daughter wanted to wear my mother’s old prom dress to church… and we let her. But it goes way beyond what we wear. When was the last time you made a mental note to look up something you didn’t understand instead of asking someone what they were talking about, just so you wouldn’t look stupid? When was the last time you allowed yourself to be silly – sing in the rain, jump in puddles, watch cartoons. How about going to a kid’s movie without a kid?

Imagine how free we’d feel if we worried less about what people thought about us and focused more on enjoying life and being ourselves? 

There is a reason that Jesus said we must become like children to “enter the kingdom of God” which essentially means to enter into that space of oneness with the Divine. And there is a reason Jesus invited the children to sit on his lap. And perhaps it is the same reason we celebrate the birth of a child who became a wise, compassionate teacher and role model for us. It is in the innocence, joy, compassion, wonder and awe of being a child, or being child-like, that we experience deeply a communion with the Spirit.

If we allow ourselves to let go of our adult walls we can once again capture again the brilliance, wonder and delight and joy within the Christmas preparations, traditions and celebrations.

Love & Light!

Kaye