Monday, December 31, 2012

2012.31.12 Holy Innocence

Isn’t it true that we often remember, best and most lastingly, the small pieces of advice from wise teachers in elementary school when we are most vulnerably wide open to awe and wonder— before worldly sophistication sets in.

Here’s one from a third grade teacher shared by our parish priest ,who never forgot it.  The children became tense at the sound of a loud approaching siren. The teacher asked what the siren meant.  “Someone has been hurt,” they said,  and called out their own fearful speculations: fire, an accident, an bad emergency. 

The teacher listened to the children’s apprehensive associations. She affirmed them all with the compassion that only good listening can offer. Then she said:  “All this is true, children, but remember too, that whenever you hear the sound of a siren,  it also means that someone is on the way fast to bring help.” 

The time between Nativity and Epiphany, when the Magi finally make it to Bethlehem, thanks to a good star + wise astro-physics and astro-theology,  is a time for breathing after the rush and panic of conspicuous consumption.  

It's a time for hope, enormous hope, unknowing hope.

Something brand new has happened, and we have no idea what it means yet. It’s also very dark time,  full of many “sirens.” A time of mixed fear AND wonder.

When I was pregnant with each of my children and in their early infancy I felt the same—excited wondering, and also exhaustion from the weight of it, and the worry about whether this child would be all right, and would I be a good enough mother?

You know that any “child” will face all of life’s challenges, some more intense than others. Being born whole is a blessing, but only the first step. In church, therefore,  we keep on singing hymns that include cradle and cross, because we know we need to keep hope alive amidst the sirens that signal both hurt and help.

For who knows? Three weird desert types, from the east or the streets, may just ride in, on camels or in hot green sneakers, with wisdom and gifts that may get us through the night, help us understand that there is more than hurt and fear in store—always.

The third graders and their teacher had it right. Help is on the way, and some of it is up to us.