In The Eyes of the Beholder

Jack, North, Tooth, Bunny and Sandy

Jack, North, Tooth, Bunny and Sandy

Just came home from watching the movie “Rise of the Guardians” with my 5-year-old (loved it!!). I liked the way they presented how each guardian (Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman and of course, Jack Frost) had a center, some specific virtue or value that they defend in and for children: dreams (Sandman), childhood memories (Tooth Fairy), hope (Easter Bunny), wonder (Santa) and fun (Jack Frost…oops, spoiler alert!).

I particularly liked how Santa explained his center. With Jack holding a tiny Matryoshka doll depicting Santa with innocent, wide eyes, he describes how he brings and protects the spirit of wonder in every little child–the ability to see things afresh, to stand back and marvel at the wondrous things around us.

Mysterious Santa, Fierce Santa, Jolly Santa, and Wide-Eyed Santa

Mysterious Santa, Fierce Santa, Jolly Santa, and wide-eyed Santa

In a previous post, I recommended 2 books containing stories of converts to Catholicism. I confess, I’m addicted to these stories about searching, wanting, discovering, and falling in love, stories about stumbling upon Truth, and coming home. Whether that person was born Catholic but took a detour or two along the way, or an inbred Fundamentalist Protestant set in ways that are (usually) biased against the Catholic Church, or even an atheist who has believed more in the world than in God, and yet has found His undeniable presence in the faith of His Church–their stories are like a breath of fresh air, awakening my senses to new ways of appreciating, and embracing, the Catholic faith.

And even in real life (not that the stories I’ve read aren’t real), I cannot help but be fascinated, and attracted, to the stories and perspective of those who weren’t born and bred as I was.

Stories like that of Franz, baptized Catholic but raised as Jehovah’s Witness, taught to despise the ways and beliefs of Catholics, told never to set foot in a church lest she perish in Hell. But still, she found herself searching for Christ’s voice, and hearing it in a humble, Christmas novena mass one fateful December. And now enjoying, devouring, anything and everything Catholic, from novenas to attending daily mass, as if trying to make up for lost time.

Or young Katrina, never formally instructed under any particular religious institution, finally baptized into the Church at age 12. She has been told who Jesus is, and has been raised to do good, but now she has found, for the first time, a real expression of her faith. While learning to catch up with what other Catholics her age already know with regards to the basic tenets of the faith can be overwhelming, I see an eagerness to learn and know, to humbly follow. So nervous and intimidated right before her first confession, she walked out with an unmistakable glow. Her comment a few minutes later, “It was so…refreshing.” Indeed.

"In truth I tell you, unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven." --Matthew 18:3

“In truth I tell you, unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven.” –Matthew 18:3

Only because it is so easy to fall into the trap of taking things for granted, only because familiarity does, if left unchecked, breed contempt, do I crave to be in the company of those whose eyes have been freshly opened to Beauty. I need to be influenced by their zeal, by their hunger, by their openness…by their wonder.

Hoping that like theirs, my eyes stay as wide open as Santa’s–searching, loving, and always grateful to be home.


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