GENDUSA COLUMN: Finding the Child under the Star

Published 9:30 am Wednesday, December 21, 2022

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On Christmas morning, children everywhere will awaken to the day’s wonder. The long-anticipated holiday when wishes come true and gifts are revealed. Parents and grandparents recall those days when we believed in Santa and waited for his reindeer to settle on our roofs. How many of us would love to experience such innocent delight again?

One Christmas Eve, when I was young, I couldn’t sleep. This was nothing new because I never slept the night Santa was to visit. Mom would be so upset with me, and Lord knows, I tried to behave, but my excitement made sleep elusive.

At the time, my parents, brother, and I lived in a rented home on a large farm outside of Nashville. It was a white clapboard beauty with a huge oak tree in the front yard where my rope swing hung from the branches. Behind the house was a cow pasture surrounded by a white fence. I would often walk to the field, climb the fence, and talk to the cows as if they were my pets. 

My bedroom window looked out toward the pasture, and I recall the night when I pressed my nose against the cold panes of glass and witnessed a miracle. I was looking for Santa and trying to be quiet, so I wouldn’t wake my sleeping parents. I hopped out of bed whenever I believed I heard a reindeer hoof to gaze out the window.  

A light shone through the dark night and into my room as I lay in bed during that long sleepless night. “Santa is here!” I thought as I jumped from under my warm covers to see the big guy and Rudolph! But the light didn’t come from Santa’s sleigh; it was from the pasture. 

The brightest star I had seen in my six years was in the field behind the fence, and its light illuminated the livestock as they huddled together in the pasture. I knew with certainty that baby Jesus was born that night in the back of our home. 

 As a child, I believed Jesus was born again each Christmas somewhere in the world. And that year, he was in the field under the star where angels would fly and gloriously sing.  

When the morning light rose, I ran to my parent’s room. “Mama, Mama, wake up! I saw the star in the pasture! Jesus was born out there! Let’s go find him!” 

I am sure they told me the whole story, but what was surprising to them was that I wanted to find baby Jesus more than I wanted to see what Santa had brought.  

To this day, after all these years, I still see the star outside my window. I was fortunate that I was taught early about the Lord and believed. My faith grew as I  did; I failed Baby Jesus many times, yet he never failed me. I will go to my grave thinking the star I saw on that special Christmas eve was the light of God.

As the years go by, we accumulate losses and challenges. We watch as the world changes and see our children grow and leave our nests. 

The longer we live, the more funerals we attend, and we clearly face our own mortality. With added wisdom, we understand life is fragile and that each day we are given, we must live fully. Sometimes the sadness of living can overwhelm us and place fear in our hearts. It is those days when living fully seems impossible.

But then there is the power of Christmas. Because a holy baby was born under a star in the world long ago, we learned that if we believed in the child, we would be given the faith needed to survive all the difficulties we endure. Because I have lived fully and stumbled over huge boulders of mistakes and sorrow, I still believe in the star that sent light into my heart long ago. 

If I could give you all one thing in the world, it would be the joy Christmas brings. Not just for the children but for each of us. So, this happy holiday and every day you live, may you press your nose against a cold windowpane, look up, and feel the wonder of Christ. When you find him in the fields is when the present is revealed and where you find peace, strength, and love.

Merry Christmas, my friends!