A former Lutheran pastor sharing thoughts on faith and life. Please join the conversation! I love your comments!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Dear Daughters: Santa, Science and Wonder

Dear Daughters,
Gonna tuck this letter away for a few years.  Right now the topic of Santa is still kind of up in the air in our house.  But, when the matter is settled in your minds, here is what I want to say to you:

I'm sorry I stink at the Santa thing.  I tried to keep the mystery alive but I never remembered which presents were supposed to be from Santa.  I'm too sleepy on Christmas Eve to remember milk and cookies and a note to Santa.  I am a horrible liar so when you asked me questions I had to do a lot of pathetic answers like, "Well, what do you think?"  I'm sure you saw through it.

Perhaps I shouldn't have even tried.  The thing is I had fun thinking "what if" kinds of questions when I was your age.  I am not sure I ever really believed in Santa but I had such fun imagining "what if I catch him putting presents under the tree?"  "What if I hear reindeer hooves on the roof?" and so on.  I wanted you to have that kind of fun too.  And more importantly I wanted to keep your imagination alive.  It is so important to be able to imagine "what if."  There would be no inventors or inventions without imagination.  How could we work for a better world if we couldn't imagine something better?

So, I tried to do the Santa thing but I was lousy at it.  And then you said you wanted an elf on the shelf.  My dearest daughters, think about how many times we have had to put six ornaments on our advent tree in one night because we forgot that many nights in a row.  Moving an elf around too?  It would have been a disaster.

I hope you have managed to hold onto the wonder and mystery anyway.  It is certainly not just for kids.  Just a few days ago I listened to Neil DeGrasse Tyson here, talking about the atoms in our bodies coming from the guts of exploded stars.  We are made of star dust!  How amazing is that?!?  He goes on to talk about the connectedness this implies: a little bit of the vast universe, big beyond our imagination, is inside of us.  It is mind blowing science tells us this.  It is also mind blowing mystics and philosophers intuited this connectedness even before science spoke of it.

There is much more in this universe to teach wonder beyond Santa.  It makes me think about those wise men following a star.  This has always confused me because I was pretty sure astrology was usually frowned upon by Christian relgious people.  But maybe the story of the magi touches upon a deeper truth.  Perhaps the magi were following the star dust within themselves, the connectedness with the vast universe, and it led them to ....  I don't want to say God.  The word God has too much baggage connected with it.  For sure, I don't want you to think of some bearded old white guy.  I don't want you to think I mean religion.   Maybe it led them to truth or the force of good or the power of unity.

Or maybe it led them to a baby,
 born into poverty,
 with no super powers or forcefield of protection,
 no magic sleigh or flying reindeer,
 vulnerable like all of us, star dust like all of us,
 reaching for a better world
 and showing us how to do so
 and that the cost can be high.

Reach for the stars, girls.  Imagine a better world, feel your connectedness and
reach for the stars.