Thoughts from Dr. Joe by Dr. Joe Puglia
Last week during recess duty at LCE, I overheard a child lecturing other children regarding their fallacious belief in Santa Claus.
With a rather scolding tone, he said, "There is no Santa Claus. How could it be? No one lives at the North Pole!" I watched the reactions of the other children. All but one quickly dismissed his proclamation as nonsense. However, one little girl became enveloped in dissolution and confusion. With besieging eyes, she starred motionless at me as though she wanted me to save her from losing her foothold on innocence. I stepped out on that limb as I knew she wasn't yet ready to stop believing. Simply, I said, "I believe in Santa Claus; he's very real to me."
Life has many harsh realities, but watching this child's erosion of faith overshadowed most. The loss of belief, although inevitable for all children, often signifies a rite of passage that metaphorically represents a child's entering the labyrinth of delusion and doubt. I guess that's called life. But don't children grow up too soon? Something dies in all of us the day we stop believing in Santa Claus.
Taking the fantasy out of life divorces us from the vitality of nature. We then raise 6- and 7-year-old cynics whose only belief is in their own reality. Skepticism abounds in our world and reason is often a god that we worship.
But we are hardly capable of grasping the whole truth of the boundless world about us. Faith, more than reason, makes us wiser as people. Goethe said, "Everything phenomenal is a metaphor!" Why then do we limit ourselves to the material when we have no reason to believe that's all there is? Why is it that we tend to legitimize the material at the expense of the imaginable? Maybe, according to Oscar Wilde, "?it's because we have grown too old and become too wise." William Blake, the English poet tells us that "Imagination is the speech of God." Thus, without imagination we create a generation that is deaf to the possibility of creation. "Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and un-seeable in the world." (Church)
Santa Claus is real. There is no better way to describe how connecting to Santa enables me to understand the magic and meaning of Christmas. Santa is that magic blanket that metaphorically wraps itself about us. The metaphor of Santa extends one's belief well beyond the imaginable. It leads us toward the horizon of fantasy, make believe and imagination. Believing in Santa enables children to explore their imaginative world as they are developing the delicate skills of awareness that will enable them to become adults who can do marvelous things: grasp intangible thought, perceive the inherent design, connect to goodness and generosity, comprehend the essence of tradition, express the deepest feeling, and understand the source of cause. Believing is the foundation of all potential and all higher forms of literature.
When I was a kid, there was only one Christmas book, "The Night before Christmas." I received it as a gift from Mrs. Morton. She said it was hers when she was a child; and by the looks of its tattered pages, I assume she was right. The story's imagery has brought Santa to life for over 181 years.
"'Twas the night before Christmas," begins this fantasy tale that takes us to the Christmas of our childhood. Everything we need to know about the rapture and beauty of Christmas is contained within its lines. So, if you know Santa, you know the miracle of Christmas?it is love?and its source emanates from the child in the manger. "First we have to believe, and then we believe." The secret is in the metaphor!
One last line from Thoreau's Walden and then I'll let you go. Remember this, it's on the final: "Not till we are lost, in other worlds do we begin to find ourselves, and realize where we are and the infinite extent of our relations!"
Metaphors! Metaphors! Metaphors! If you get this?you've got it!