Wednesday, December 16, 2009

"Children see magic because they look for it."

This morning, my friend Ed shared this quote from Christopher Moore (Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal).

I absolutely LOVE this quote! I'd never heard it before today, but it's absolutely true.

As we've been getting ready for Christmas, my four year old and I have been having many discussions about Jesus-- that Christmas is, in part, the celebration of his birth.

About a week ago, my boys wanted to know about him dying on the cross, so we had a conversation that involved several youtube clips for children about his resurrection. I mention this because both of my boys were absolutely fascinated with him rising from the dead and going to heaven.

So my four year old, every time he brings up the baby Jesus, will tell me that Jesus was magic. He had magic hands that could heal the sick. And a magic spirit that went up to heaven and God. And that God is magic because he can go between heaven and earth.

Now, we also have many traditions in my house that center around St. Nicholaus. And my children will talk about the magic of Santa as well. Like God, he knows what you've been doing, and whether or not your being good. But unlike God, he has a list he has to check.

I've tried very hard not to lead my children falsely about St. Nick, so whenever they outright ask me if he's real, my answer has always been, "St. Nicholaus the man was very much real, a long time ago. But I believe the spirit of St. Nicholaus is very much alive today, in the spirit of giving to others." ....If you've been paying attention, you can probably figure out where this is going. . . I didn't. (lol)

But my children made the instant connection between Jesus and Santa-- they were both real men in the past, whose magic spirits are alive today. Both good men, trying to improve the world for the people in it.

My friend Jeanie's daughter, and my oldest son have been really good friends, pretty much since they moved onto our street three years ago. And every now and then, while they've been playing outside, they've had theological discussions of their own. Pretty intense for 6 (my son) and 8 (her daughter) year olds, at the time of this discussion.

One day, they got onto the subject of magic-- it was brought up because my son had just seen the latest Harry Potter movie, and my friend's daughter was talking about how magic is the work of the devil and it's evil. My son adamently denied it and they both rushed into the house to ask me. I listened to her explanation, and then I asked her, "Is the sun breaking through the clouds to shine down on you evil?" To which she answered, "No."

"Is a rainbow shining across the heavens evil?"

"No."

"Well how about the first flowers pushing up through the earth in the spring? Or the leaves changing colors in the fall?"

"Well....No Mrs. Janin. None of that is evil....But...But that's not magic!"

"Isn't it? It's the magic of the world around us. It's in everything that lives and grows. It's the miracle of new life, the wonder of nature, the joy of happy moments. Jesus performed miracles, didn't he?"

"Yes."

"And do you think, perhaps, that might have been a bit of magic?"

"...Yes. I guess maybe it could be."

"So all magic isn't evil?"

"No, I guess not."

To which I smiled and said, "Like everything else in this world, it's all about your intentions and what you do with it, that determines whether something is good or evil."

With as frequently as we discuss God and Jesus at our house, you might think we're Christian... and if you're set hard and fast of what your definition of what a Christian is, then you're probably outrageously offended by these two stories.

My husband is Christian. I suspect that my children will probably be Christian, and I encourage them to believe in God and heaven, and teach them about Jesus because he had some great lessons and the Bible is full of wonderful stories. But we also have conversations about the Hindu gods and beliefs. And the differences between Jewish faith and Christianity. We've had discussions on the Native American shamanism, the Celtic pantheon, and the Greek and Roman beliefs as well. I've taught them that mythology is the religion of past civilizations; Doesn't mean there aren't lessons to be learned from them.

So I'll leave you with one of my favorite lessons from Jesus and the Bible:

Matthew 21: 18-22

Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered.

And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away.

And when the disciples saw it, they marveled saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away!

Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.

And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

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