Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Rethinking Reality

The theme of the year in Purdue's Wesley Foundation ministry is Rethink. Since August, we've been rethinking something new every two weeks: church, friendship, beauty. This fortnight, we've been rethinking reality, and for the devotion before Tuesday night communion, I talked about reality as the combination of our beliefs and our actions.

In his discussion of the first lines of the book of Genesis, Sandor Goodheart notes that we are partners with God in the ongoing process of creation. We are working with God to create reality. To illustrate this point, I read from the post reproduced below (all but the last 2 paragraphs). When our actions are the embodiment of our beliefs we become the Gospel message of love, hope, and compassion  for the world. We influence reality.

Santa is an Act of Love

I didn't know what I was going to say to my kids when they asked about Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, et. al. I didn't want to ruin the magic. I study fairytales and myths, for crying out loud, and firmly believe that they are vitally important to the health of our personal and social psyches. But I also did not want to look my children in the eye and lie to them. Thou shalt not, you know?

Then, one day, about a year ago, totally unexpectedly, at the ripe old ages of nearly 6 and 4.5, they asked.
"Is Santa real?" came wafting forward from the backseat. My husband glanced at me. "Santa," I said, "is something we do because we love each other. Papa and I think about what you love to do and what you need and we give it to you as Santa."

"But is he real?"

"Yes," my husband said, "Santa is real because we make him real."

"Do you want to help be Santa this year?" I offered. They did. So we did.

We split up in the store. One parent and one child buying a few small stocking stuffers for the other parent and child. The we took turns going to bed on Christmas Eve while the others stuffed stockings. It was a bit awkward, but the kids got a ton of joy out of creating the surprise for someone else. Last week, Sofia looked up at me and said, "I want to be Santa for Papa with you."

I worried a little after we blew the Santa cover last year. Would Anna tell the other kids at school and ruin it for them? But the myth of Santa is alive and well in our house. At the same time they are plotting what to give each other and us, they want to sit on Santa's lap downtown and they write him letters in school.
I wondered about the bunny and the fairy. Then when Anna lost her first tooth, she looked at me and said, "I'm gonna go put this under my pillow so you can be my tooth fairy, Mama."

And she did, so I did.

Even though the elf and the fairy aren't corporeal beings of their own, the are very real and very true. They are expressions of our love and caring for one another. Now I understand why my mother kept putting presents under the tree with no name in the from slot (Santa's m.o. in our house) even long after my sister and I knew they were from her. And I understand why I was so sad when as newlyweds we went to my mom's for Christmas and she didn't fill my stocking. "You have someone else to do that for you now," she said.

She's right. It took me a while to convince him that this is important, but I know he appreciates the figs, Toblerone, Clementine and dime that I spirit into his stocking every Christmas Eve, and each year he gets better at expressing affection through whimsical indulgence. And now, he has the kids to help him!