I had a wonderful Christmas holiday. My son, Shawn and his girlfriend Rebecca visited from California, where Shawn goes to Stanford University. Actually they had visited for part of the week before Christmas, and had to leave right before the actual holiday. I couldn’t shut up the whole time they were here! I found myself more enthusiastic and boisterous than usual. I couldn’t seem to contain myself! My son played the guitar and sang one evening, and I was moved by how unbelievably good he was! It had been years since he had last played for me. Rebecca is an opera singer. That same night she brought us all to tears, so beautiful was her rendition of “Oh Holy Night”! I have never heard a voice like that! We all talked about “real” things, you know, those things that we care deeply about, are deeply moved by, etc. We allowed space and safety (lack of any judgment), so each of us could be fully authentic, playful, and open. It was wonderful! Continue reading
originally published in Downeast Coastal Press by KS in Dec. 1989
Christmas is the time that we have set aside to celebrate the birth of a very special child. Religious concerns aside, this holiday has much Power. Spiritual Power. The Power that we sense in myth and metaphor. The Power of this season brings us closer to our children-both internal and external.
The Christmas Season is a celebration of the child, and the Power of the Child to set us free. It moves us from our little world of daily concerns, disconnection, practicality, and rationality, into the larger world of Trust, Intimacy, Awe and Wonder.
The Special Child that was born 2000 years ago was not accepted (no room at the inn), had no place of His own, and had humble beginnings close to nature. It was not safe where He was, so He was taken to Egypt by parents whose most important task was to love, care for, and protect this Special Child.
My imagination tells me that His parents allowed him to develop, or unfold, at his own rate, knowing with certainty that His Power was inside Him, a special gift from God. No control or manipulation would bring that Power out. The timing and nature of His unfolding was left to God.
In the beginning, vey few recognized the Power that was inherent in this Special Child, except for his parents, and a few others called Wise Men.
According to the Book of John, in the New Testament, one of the first miracles attributed to the Power inherent in the adult named Jesus, was the turning of water into wine at the marriage feast in Canaan.
A few years ago, the Power of the Christmas Season touched me fully for the first time in my life, or at least for the first time since I was a child. It was the first time I was totally alone on Christmas Eve. Snowflakes had fallen throughout the day, reminding me of the magic that I used to feel as a child in anticipation of a “White Christmas”. That feeling of “magic” escaped me, however. Darkness had fallen, and thee was an “emptiness” that emanated from the corner of the living room, where the absence of a traditional Christmas tree was evident. I also had an emptiness in my heart, that did not just come from being alone. My radio was tuned to a Public Broadcasting Christmas special that was offering readings of traditional Christmas stories.
Slowly the stories that were being told lightened my spirits. With each one, I felt a bit more alive, a bit less depressed. Finally they read “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus”. I had heard it before, but its meaning and power had somehow escaped me. But not this time. The sobs that burst from the deepest part of my being could never be described. The words “the Eternal Light with which Childhood fills the world would be extinguished” echoed in my mind. The “Child Within” me was emerging more fully than ever before. The emptiness in my heart disappeared and was replaced by a “fullness”.
With the fullness came a deep appreciation of the timelessness and beauty of the stories I was listening to, as well as a recognition of the deep and hidden meaning of some of those stories. I will never forget that evening.
Years ago, my own Special Child, or Child Within, was not accepted and had to flee to a place deep within me in order to survive. Later, even I continued to abandon him, and he stayed imprisoned. Due to circumstances beyond my control, my Child Within has re-emerged, carefully testing to see if it is safe, retreating if I or others mistreat him.
Like Joseph and Mary, my most important task is to love, care for and protect my Child Within. As I learn to do this, I can do the same for my sons.
I am learning to allow the Child Within to develop or unfold at his own pace, knowing that no control or manipulation will aid his emergence. As I learn to do this, I can do the same for my sons. And finally, just as Jesus turned the water into wine, the Power of the Child Within turns the watered down experience of practicality, disconnection, and rationality, into the Wine of Trust, Intimacy, Awe, and Wonder. Ever so slowly, the adult and the child become one.
This Christmas, take time to remember the children: our sons and daughters, as well as the children we were (who have been internalized within us). Take time for those special stories and other rituals that are a part of the season, and allow yourself to feel their transporting Power. And if you hear or read “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus”, let yourself feel the import behind the words, for that is the Power of Myth and Metaphor, the Power of the Season, the Power of the Child.
(first appeared in the Downeast Coastal Press on Oct. 17, 1989)
- This child is inside of me, part of me. This child demands to be heard by me, the adult, and by other adults who also have a child within themselves. This child cries out, not only for itself, but for all children. This child cries out for children who still ride bikes and use swingsets and slides, and still look at the world with wonder and magic in their eyes. This child also cries out for the internalized child within all adults. The child within, is that part of ourselves, which we were taught to deny. It is the spontaneous, creative, intuitive, adventurous, feeling, and magical part of ourselves, which seems to have no place of it’s own in the world; no place that is safe, except to remain in hiding, deep inside of us, never acknowledged, always abandoned. With the voice of this child, I will try to describe an experience that I had, here in my own town, as seen through the eyes of a “child”.
- I felt a deep sadness, almost as if it were permeating the air around me, and decided to take a walk with my youngest son. At the edge of our property, I spotted a few young children fishing with makeshift poles. Two sisters shared a pole. These two children, (ten years old, and six years old), had just been separated from their mother. Their mother had just been returned to the hospital for the “nth” time, suffering from an acute emotional distress.
- How can the world be a safe enough place for these two little ones to allow their True Selves to develop and mature? How can they avoid becoming the roles that they have to play, in order to survive in this world? I watched as the ten year old helped her little sister brush off and straighten her dress, and lead her off, hand on shoulder. They returned to a home where no one waited, as their dad was off, attending to the necessary and painful duties of the present crisis. I said a silent prayer for the ten year old surrogate mother, and her six year old surrogate daughter, lost in the confusion of a home without Mommy. Both were playing their roles. To anyone on the outside, all was well.
- A few minutes passed, and a young boy rode up on his bike. He said hello to my son, and then to myself. He got off his bike, and stared out over the river. Then he turned to me, and told me that his Mom had dropped him off at a neighbor’s. He told me, also, that the neighbor had gone and left him on his own. He was about seven years old. His voice wavered, and his forehead creased with concern, as he told me. Then, as if noticing the other children for the first time, he proceeded to tell me in a haughty voice-“It’s no big deal, I just found somebody who was home, just like before.”! I knew this wasn’t the first time he had been left alone, and probably wouldn’t be his last. His role was becoming solidified. Soon, to anyone on the outside, all would appear well. He would become the role he has to play in order to survive!
- All three of these children have been abandoned. The chances are very high that they will suffer as adults, in some way, because of abandonment trauma.
- Abandonment, (either physical, or emotional), is usually present in most dysfunctional homes. In a dysfunctional home, most family members end up playing a “role” and continue to play that role unconsciously as adults. Children can be, and are, extraordinarily creative in their coping mechanisms. Even at seven or eight, they can take on the roles of an adult, in order to fill what is missing in the family. But they do this at the cost of their childhood! They can play the roles of Little Daddy, Little Mommy, Rescuer, Scapegoat, or any number of other roles, until they become the role, losing their sense of identity in the process. All spontaneity, creativity, awe, and wonder go out the window, along with their deepest feelings and intuitions! These young children become pseudo-adults, always calculating their next move, trying to control the hostile adult world that they are saddled with. They have no time to grieve their very real losses, nor anyone to validate their fears, grief, or outrage over the loss of a safe, protected environment, in which it is safe to be a child!
- The “voice” within me, the voice of the child within me, is not a voice of authority. It is the voice of experience. It is the voice of a child who’s been there, and survived against impossible odds.
- As an adult, I could minimize the pain I endured as a child, and continue to abandon that child within me, as he was abandoned in so many ways growing up- but I will not! It is that part of me which can embrace the pain of others; that part of me which sees the world with gentle eyes, not with the eyes that are blinded by the pain of injuries never acknowledged! I embrace that child within me- that spontaneous, creative, intuitive, adventurous, magical part of myself, that experiences the world through feeling! It is that part of myself which speaks to you, now, of the plight of children around us, and within us, and it beckons, gently, to that child within you, to awaken!