The Power of the Child
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.
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