December 05, 2008
The Child Within
The Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner
St. Nick's Day, December 6, 2008
Today is St. Nick's day, a day that has always been associated with gifts for children, although adults certainly enjoy giving and receiving gifts as well. There are numerous myths and customs associated with St. Nicholas. One of my favorites is a custom that began in the Catholic Church during the Middle Ages when each year, on December 6th, St. Nicholas Day, cathedrals and parishes would gather to elect a "Boy Bishop." The real bishop would step down for three weeks and allow this boy to dress in full bishop regalia and perform many of the functions of the bishop. He would also be surrounded by many of his young friends who would dress as priests. If you find this hard to believe as I once did you can learn more about this custom at http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02725a.htm
I don't know about you, but more often than I care to think, I have a problem with taking myself and taking life itself, way too seriously. I get caught up worrying about being so responsible and so productive. At times like this I lose touch with the child within and find myself stressed and tired. My personal wellness suffers at these times and so does the wellness of those around me!
I can imagine that clergy in the middle ages also struggled with taking themselves too seriously and so how wonderful it must have been for them, every December 6th, to step out of that role and observe it through the eyes of a child.
While the boy-bishop custom is long gone, we can each bring back this practice in our own lives and enhance our wellness in the process. We can step aside on a regular basis from our need to be too serious and view ourselves through the eyes of a child.
My own three children have always enjoyed parodying me. Of course, they most enjoy doing it when I am being overly serious, and of course that's when I need it most. Seeing them reflect me back to myself is a gift of humor and gift of life and I am thankful for that.
Try it yourself some time. Have a child in your life play you for a few minutes so that you can see how you look through their eyes. You will have a great deal of fun and learn something important in the process.
This holy time of year is most fully enjoyed through the eyes of a child. Here's wishing the children in your life great joy, including the one within you!