What child is this? “Why lies He in such mean estate, Where ox and donkeys are feeding?”
The spark of divinity, I am certain, lies in every one of us. In every human, in every child. Some will find that spark and try to change the world, others will lose the spark and their way.
It does not matter if they are born to wealth and luxury in suburban Boston, like Robert Kennedy, or born to poverty and loss on the grubby edge of South Pennsylvania Avenue in Lansing, Michigan, like Malcolm X, that spark is there, that capacity to bring the voice of divinity to earth, that ability to change human hearts, though it so often goes unrecognized, or is snuffed out.
What child is this? Who carries that spark in your classroom, in your school? Who needs that spark whispered into a flame?
That child who will change our world might have any color skin, might not be able to read in third grade, or eighth, might struggle with math on paper, might use a wheelchair or be labelled “multipli-impaired, might be spinning around while the teacher reads, or might be wandering the halls while class is going on.
She might be more interested in singing than she is interested in the book the teacher wants to quiz her on. He might be usually found sitting outside the principal’s office. She might not want to be in 8th grade phys ed, or might stare at YouTube while an adult is talking and talking. She might be banned from the United States by Donald Trump. He might have his health care pulled by Republicans in the US Congress, or be blocked from studying at Oxford by Madam Brexit.
My own private theology, while believing every bit in Jesus, finds his divinity unquestioned and yet far more common than most would believe. And in that theology of mine we do not know which of the children in our communal care will rise to lead us forward.
“Mary did you know?” asks one Christmas Carol. And when I hear that song, or as we celebrate the Christmas, I wonder who among us are as the Three Kings were — who among us recognizes that star on the horizon and comes to the lowest of shelters to bring gifts to a child?
When your school reopens after the New Year look at every child, and ask deeply, what child is this?
Happy Christmas, Happy Holidays,
- Ira Socol
New Rochelle High School’s annual Hallelujah Chorus