For unto us …
So what on earth does a Jewish-born-atheist-teetering-on-Zen-Buddhist find so attractive about Christmas? Indeed, I have asked myself that question many times over the years, and a few days ago I realized, as I was putting out our three nativity tableaus, from Mexico, Peru and Kenya, on the dining room hutch, that one of the reasons I love this holiday as much as I do, is directly related to its central story. In fact, I noticed that I was laying out each scene with extreme care and quite a loving feeling in my heart. I even placed a candle at each end to lighten the way for the displays of that sacred family.
Although the story was not new to me, it struck me at a different emotional level than before. I thought almost out loud: "It's the holiday that celebrates the birth of an infant. A child, who was born to save us all!"
Annie Lennox singing, As Joseph Was A Walking, reminds us that the birth of that holy infant happened in the humblest of circumstances. Together with her African children's choir, they warble "Hallelujah" at the joy in His coming.
I think to myself, well, who wouldn't want to celebrate such a story? And especially me – an early childhood teacher educator. For my life's work is about advocating for quality, caring relationships with young children. I believe that each child is born with the potential to make enormous contributions to her family, society, and even to the whole, wide world. Children are born with hope for the future. As we receive each new-born infant into our homes, hearts, and societies, we have the power and responsibility to welcome her with open arms and enormous compassion. Children bring light to our lives and hope for a better tomorrow.
It is a beautiful story. Worthy of celebrating. And people do – with candles, twinkling lights, gifts, songs, prayers, and much good will in their hearts. I join in happily. In fact, along with our tradition of acquiring one new ornament for our tree each year, I also find myself searching for new nativity scenes. I stop myself from buying them because I become embarrassed for me – you know – being that Jewish-born-atheist-teetering-on-Zen-Buddhist person that I am!
This year, as I search for yet another tableau portraying that sacred little family surrounded by well wishers, and lowly, manger animals, I will reflect on all young children out there, but especially those who are relationship deprived. Those, who are excluded and humiliated, treated with disrespect, and especially those who crave for, and so desperately need, our attention and acknowledgement. I will see them in each holy infant of every nativity scene. And I will know that my work will never be done in advocating for all young children everywhere, who deserve our love and compassion.