Monday, December 20, 2004

Anticipation

The countdown has begun. All across the Western world, children are counting the days. Santa will be here soon.

Okay, I realize Santa doesn’t seem too spiritual. In fact, some folks go so far as to say that teaching children about Santa is dangerous. When they find out there is no Santa, they might quit believing in God. Actually, when children cease to be children they will quit believing they need God. Jesus says, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 18:3).

Children have the capacity to appreciate the wonder and magic of myth. They may not understand why the snow falls in winter, but they delight in it as a gift from heaven. The whole world is touched with wonder. There are friendly trees and mean trees. Digging a hole in the back yard may take them to China. Fairies play in the backyard—just out of sight. Children see something adults have grown to old and blind to see. G.K. Chesterton says, “It may be that (God) has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father us younger than we.”

Children are still young in spirit. They realize this world is miraculous. The spiritual world in entwined with the physical. Their minds may not understand the subtleties of doctrines and theology but their hearts recognize the reality of spiritual light and spiritual darkness.

When it comes to Christmas, they understand something so close to the human heart that adults seem to overlook it. Christmas Eve is just as spectacular as Christmas Day. Christmas Eve is when the Mystery draws near. Paul Jones says:
“As a child I could understand this, for no Christmas Day could ever match the mystery of anticipation called Christmas Eve. All of the major Christian festivals are woven in and out of Vigils—the prior evening in which one awaits in foretaste. Especially significant are the mystery of Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, and the rapture of Easter Vigil, which begins and ends in the speckled darkness of early morning. It is in anticipation, at the outer edge of yearning, deeply in time, that Mystery births us.” (A Season in the Desert, 72).

We live so close to the Mystery of God that sometimes we overlook it. In seasons like Advent, we remind ourselves of the deep inner childlike, yearning we have to draw near to the Mystery of God. He is above and beyond all we can know; yet we long to draw near Him. We live in Anticipation.

Anticipation

“What was that?”
“Did you hear that?”
“I think, I think
He’s out there.”

Christmas eve. The magic is almost here.
My heart is throbbing, my
mind is racing.
Sleep?
How?

Tonight’s the night. Michelle says that she saw him last year.
“What was that?”

Looking down over the railing, I crane my neck to no avail.
A flickering of colors rains across the hall.

Trembling, I climb onto the top step. My body
aches to keep climbing down the stairs.

But my mind is terrified.
“What if I spoil the magic?”

Endless seconds
crawl before me. And then,

Michelle taps my shoulder and wakes me from a long winter’s sleep. It’s time!

Our world is different. Just hours ago, he was here!
Here in this very house!

adf – 12/19/01

1 comment:

PaPa said...

Wooooooo - Hooooooooooo