Open Up and Say AWE - from the CS&T column "Catholic Currents"
One of my favorite words is... sehnsucht. I realize you probably weren't expecting that one, and you may have trouble even figuring out how to pronounce it. My apologies. Sehnsucht is a German word that captures (and at the same time can not actually capture) that mysterious longing in the human heart for Something More. In a sense, it's a uniquely human word. It describes the human condition. It names us and claims us as the special ones in the galaxy; the ones whose “hearts are restless until they rest in"... well, let's get to that answer in a moment. All of us at some point or another have experienced sehnsucht. Many of us feel it intensely at this time of year. It glimmers in the anticipation of Christmas and it can also elude us as Christmas slips away again. It is the proverbial wind in the hand, moving past us and through us but never remaining too long within us. Sehnsucht is like feeling nostalgia for something you actually never had in the first place, but you believe is still out there waiting for you “just around the river bend.” C.S. Lewis was captivated by the concept of sehnsucht. In The Pilgrim's Regress he provided examples of things that can wrap an image around it, like a suit of clothes around the Invisible Man: "...the smell of a bonfire, the sound of wild ducks flying overhead, the title of The Well at the World's End, the opening lines of "Kubla Khan", the morning cobwebs in late summer, or the noise of falling waves." Music is one of the brightest wrappings to give form to our elusive yearning for meaning in life, and Christmas music doubly so. Chanting choirs, children’s voices, songs we’ve heard for generations, and some new ones that have a spark of longing in them. Even the "Grinchyest" of hearts has a favorite tune. Although I’ve heard Gloria Estefan’s song “Christmas Through Your Eyes” in seasons past, this year it really struck me. I think it’s the presence of our little boy, who’s just over a year old now. We’re looking backwards to our youth and forward through his! Gloria too is captured by the innocence of young eyes and the pure wonder reflected in them. Like an expert spy, the power of her music has slipped past the guards of doubt and cynicism and touched the very core of who we are, all of us, deep down; Children of God.
Till I had you I didn't know That I was missing out Had to grow up and see the world Through different shades of doubt Give me one more chance to dream again One more chance to feel again Through your young heart If only for one day let me try I wanna see Christmas through your eyesIt’s been said that boredom is a relatively new term. The French coined the word ennui to describe that listlessness we see around us, the great shuffling of modern feet through a world that’s being stripped of its inherent transcendence. We’re like the character in the film Joe versus the Volcano, trudging off to work, scraping our shoe against the sidewalk crying out “I’m losing my sole.” But in the wisdom of God, and through the fruitfulness He endowed us with, we have the grace to “feel again through your young heart.” With everything human, however, there must be a choice. We must decide in this walk of life to look up, to resist the gravitational pull of skepticism and mistrust. We must acknowledge the restlessness too, and let the hole in the center of our hearts remain open. Not easy work by any means, especially in this season when we are bombarded with the temptation to cram material, finite things into that hole in the center of our chests. But our hearts will be restless until they rest in God, so Augustine reminds us.
I see the rain, you see the rainbow hiding in the clouds Never afraid to let your love show Won't you show me how Wanna learn how to believe again Find the innocence in me again Through your young heartI remember a little shard of poetry that says “Two men looked out through prison bars. One saw mud, the other stars.” So where are we in all of this? Are we amazed or dazed? Have we got the wonder, I wonder? As the assault on family, faith, and fertility rages on in our culture, perhaps we’d all do well to heed those street signs that say “Watch Children.” We need to see again, and not just Christmas, but all things through their eyes. For to just such as these is given the Kingdom of Heaven. Do you believe this? Did you know that your heart is the place He wishes to dwell? Let’s make our hearts that manger this year. Let's acknowledge the longing in us by naming Jesus in one of His ancient titles: Desire of the Everlasting Hills. Let’s make room within for the Child in all of us.
Help me find a way, help me try I wanna see Christmas through your eyes