DOWN YONDER, FL. – The little girl’s eyes sparkled when she spotted the huge mechanical Santa waving from his post outside the store.
“Ho, ho, ho,” she said, surprising her parents. They didn’t realize she knew so much at 17 months.
People find Christmas in many different places but I see Christmas in the smiling eyes of that little girl.
I relive the miracle of that first Christmas night with each gleam of unconditional love that springs from her sweet and tiny face. She’s an adult now or nearly so. I still see the unconditional love and I still see the small child each Christmas.
Christmas began, of course, with the birth of a child.
Born in a barn and laid in a manger, that tiny infant was a gift to the world; a gift intended to relieve the world of its slavish attachment to itself, to relieve the world of its meanness and self-seeking; replacing those worldly constrictures with hope, love and peace.
That is quite a burden to place on the soft shoulders of a baby child and, yet, it is only a baby child who has a chance at fulfilling that promise.
Each child carries within her or him the steadfast love, the trust and the undated yearning for peace and universal understanding.
It is in the eyes of each child that we see the hope for peace and harmony and the promised of a new and brighter day. It is in the eyes of all children, no matter their color or the color of the skin around those hopeful, yearning eyes.
The promise of children is not only found in the eyes of Christian children, either. It is also found in the eyes of Jewish children and Muslim children and Buddhist children and Hindu children and in every child of every religious, social and cultural stripe.
Christmas lights may sparkle and add luster to the season but the sparkle in a child’s eyes is as powerful and as moving as any bright star in the east.
There are, at this Christmas, still too many children of hope and promise suffering from the cynicism of adults.
Although it is but a dim glow, the light of hope sparkles even in the eyes of the children of Syria, of Somalia, of Nigeria and too many other places where children suffer.
Even inAmerica, where the promise of hope is woven into the basic fabric of civic life, 15 million children suffer from poverty and society’s neglect.
Until each child has a chance to realize her or his own promise of hope and peace, the Christmas story will remain incomplete.
A little know but dramatic narrative describing the birth of the Christ Child was probably penned at least 200 years after that birth. It’s called the Arundel manuscript of a Latin Infancy Gospel.
“The child himself, like the sun, shone brightly, beautiful and delightful to see, because he alone appeared as peace, soothing the whole world,” reads the translated manuscript. “…and opening his eyes, he looked intently at me and suddenly a great light came forth from his eyes like a great flash of lightening.”
It is the power of Christmas that puts that light into each child’s eyes. The Christ Child was born to all people and children everywhere are born to all people like him.
As long as children are being born into this world, the hope and promise of that first Christmas will never end.
Merry Christmas to all sleeping children of hope and peace, wherever they rest their heads.