May 21, 2018.

By Director of Music & Arts and Worship Coordinator Laura Weiss.

This blog is for adult eyes only. No kids allowed!

Yes. I still believe in Santa. I remember standing in the kitchen as a little girl when my baby sister and I started discussing the coming holiday. I said something about the big guy in red and she blurted out, “You know he’s not real, right?”

Total devastation. Followed by complete denial.

I have never had the courage to ask my mother to confirm or deny my sister’s accusation, and my mother (of this I am sure she is grateful) never offered an explanation. To this day, my mother won’t discuss where the gifts for us grown adults come from. We not only condone this, we participate. Even as we wear the “adulting” hats now, each of us grown children allows for this different kind of truth – one that requires no evidence or hard proof. We still believe in Santa.

I am thankful for this in small and great ways. But mostly, I was thankful the other day when my little one, Adia, got off the bus in a huff having just fought with her best friend, Jackson. Apparently, he held the position of no Santa, while my 7-year-old fought earnestly to defend her belief in St. Nick. I found out that they had agreed to a peace treaty – one where they will not remain friends and thus maintain their separate beliefs. She didn’t seem to mind the outcome of this arrangement because he is “moving in a few weeks anyway.” Sigh.

Well, my initial instincts were to hold a conversation with her about how she “should always try to part on good terms,” and how much she would miss him, but it didn’t seem to motivate a change in her heart at all. I knew we needed to change directions.

I remember having faith in wizards, magic, the tooth fairy, leprechauns, unicorns and others … and they each helped me develop my faith as a child in some way. But to believe in them meant to embrace them as truth and I wanted my daughter to embrace her truth. I explained to Adia that “it can mean believing that Disneyland exists because I tell you it does or because you WANT to believe it is awesome even if you have never seen it yourself. It isn’t less true because you haven’t seen it.” Our truth requires deciding what has meaning for us and Santa is no different.

At some point in our lives – either in our school classes or through playground incidents (reference sticking your tongue to the frozen flagpole) – we decide that truth relies on proof. But as we evolve into deeper spiritual beings, we know that while in some cases we could argue that truth requires proof – in spiritual realms we know that truth is shaped by meaning making. What we find meaningful and believe in becomes truth for us and what other people believe becomes their truth. But breaking relationships in order to maintain individuality does not promote learning and deepening of that truth. Great growth does not come from hanging out with like-minded people, but by meeting new thoughts and different people with a goal of like-heartedness. My deepest growth has occurred when encountering other religious faith practices from my own, but only when I am willing to be in relationship and practice humbling myself before what I have yet to learn from differing perspectives.

Adia and I discussed much of this and she returned the next day to tell Jackson how much it doesn’t matter what each person believes; it matters how we treat each other (swoon). They passed notes, settled differences and decided it wasn’t worth it to fight over their beliefs. They could each believe what they wanted. Being friends was more important. #momwin

If we are to be in right relationship with fellow humans and deepen our learning, we cannot define the parameters as self/“other” or seek out individuals who believe the same things we do. We must seek out those who are different, who challenge us and know them dearly. It’s knowing what they like to grill on summer evenings, whether they have a dog, cat or like houseplants. It’s knowing each soul as a community member and friend first and seeking a connection based on our like-heartedness. It is this work that expands our ever-blessed, beloved home in this universe to one of perfect and radiant love.