Saturday, November 22, 2008

I Believe!

Tonight, I cheated. A little. A cold night here in Texas, my fiance and I made coffee and watched the movie The Polar Express. Though an animated children's movie, it never fails to move me. Symbolized by a small bell, the movie portrays the true belief in Santa; only believers in Santa Claus can hear the small sleigh bell.

After watching this movie, I always find myself pondering my childhood Christmases. Since we were a large family, there always seemed to be thousands of presents pouring out from under the tree on Christmas morning. In my childhood, this particular Season was a time of magical wonderment; the highlight of the year. January would find us depressed at the close of Christmas, July found us sneaking Christmas tapes to our room and playing Christmas while my parents weren't looking. But, Thanksgiving and the following days--those were tangible magic. Letters were written and placed on the fireplace, after hours spent pouring over the JCPenney Catalog. A large tree went up in our Living Room, with much fanfare as to who's turn it was to put the tree topper on. Santa Claus the Movie and It's a Wonderful Life were video staples, watched with egg-nog and hot chocolate. Most of all, time and intense thought were given every year as to our gifts for each other.

We believed in Santa Claus. Second to Catholic Dogma, my siblings and I fought for Saint Nicholas' existence. Our friends believed, too, until they got to a certain age. When inevitable doubt would fill us, our parents or big brother would set us straight. While Santa only added to the magic, I knew the Source of Christmas. This perception of Christmas was manifested perfectly in a small statue my has mother placed next to the Nativity every Christmas. A tiny manger, filled with hay, containing the baby Jesus; kneeling humbly next to Him with hat off was Santa Claus. This, materialized, was Christmas. All magic knelt before Him as He was the source of all magic.

As our society loses Faith in God and religion become an extremist and endangered "lifestyle," I wonder something. All magic, for children, is gone. Many children no longer believe in Santa. Commercials and publicity advertise Mom and Dad creating Christmas. Society has begun decorating for Christmas as early as October. Nothing is sacred; nothing is enchanted. Because we have squelched God out of society, we have extinguished all magic. G.K. Chesterton once said, "For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony [like children]. But perhaps God is strong enough exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, 'Do it again!' to the sun; and every evening, 'Do it again!' to the moon!" But, even children no longer exult in monotony; I fear, children no longer exult in anything.

I still believe in Santa Claus. We Smith children still do, though we are no longer children. This belief, though changed somewhat, still burns strongly within my heart. Christ is the foundation of Christmas, but the jolly bearded man is the embodiment of giving. As Christmas approaches, I am reminded of that magic, that enchantment I had as a child. The very fascinating excitement to hand pieces of God's love to others. Santa Claus, he did this. He still does. He is not one man; rather, he is all of us. We are all that magical desire to give joy, peace, and love to others most especially during this holiday season. There are few of us left who have this bewitching desire to give, to love. But, Christ burns all the more strongly in us as the foundation of this magic.

This shall serve as additional incentive for me as the Christmas Season approaches. I shall, give until it hurts because, as Mother Theresa once said, "if we give until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only love." May Santa Claus and his Divine Source serve as encouragement to all Christians this season, as we fight to re-infuse Christmas with Christ. May we all remember that it is only in giving that we receive. And, ultimately, that "the true Spirit of Christmas lies in your heart."

Merry Christmas.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Death Living in the Hallways: Thoughts from Christ's Little Teapot

Last year, God placed me in a private Catholic school, where I was to teach and guide young people. While there, I was able to freely talk of my moral beliefs and preach constantly about God's Holy Word. While I saw some sad stories and had a few difficult children, I am only now learning how easy I had it.

Now, I am substitute teaching in another school district. The last few days have found me at the High School, working both as a PE and an Art teacher. I thought I had mentally prepared myself for what I was going to see; after all, I was a public school kid, myself. I was more than wrong. As I stepped inside this microcosm, shock overtook me. I watched as fifteen and fourteen year old kids slid their hands all over each other. As a military brat, I have never heard such foul language so often. But, the most saddening aspect: these grown up children move through their day like dead people. Many children never show any expression; rather, they eerily resemble zombies. However, even those who exude some expression, share a characteristic with the others. There is no life in their eyes.

I have spent the last three days searching for it. My sisters have it. I have it. My brothers and fiance have it. Everyone with whom I went to college also had it. That life in their eyes. A spark there that next manifests itself in this all over glow. Innocence. As I scanned the faces of the miniature adults moving through the hallways and entering my room, I never saw it. All that greeted my search was repetitive darkness and death in their eyes; an absence of life.

Still, I exude Christ. Smiling to every face that actually turns to mine, saying hello, using affirmation and endearments. Most are in vain. However, I have had a few rare moments where, almost like a burst of sunshine, Christ's love, through his little tool, is poured into the soul of a youth and blooms instantaneously. Eyes lock, a moment of questioning trust, and then, for a moment, I see the spark. What joy unfolds in this child! And, sadly, how alien they find it. Some shut it down, others come beckoning for more. This is my success.

Even though I am only in the lives of these children for a fleeting moment, I may never know what impact I might have on them. I consider myself Christ's pitcher, into which He pours His love, only to pour it into others. I yearn to be Christ's pitcher, to be the one full container that shares His love with many empty containers.

I will continue to act as His little teapot, the channel for His divine Love. I pray that these young children will realize that they are just that: His children. And that is okay. I pray that these children find Real Love and understand what it is they are looking for. And, lastly, I pray to always remember to put these young sheep first, before me, that they may receive Christ through me and somewhere always have it. God bless the little children.